Thursday, September 12, 2002
Melinda Appleby, one of English Nature's Council Members was invited to a Chartered Surveyor Conference to give a personal view of 'Farming in the Future'. During her presentation she touched on the importance of hedgerows and recounted the following story:
A Farmer owned two small fields, one 12 hectares (acres) the other 8 hectares (acres). These were divided by a particularly nice length of hedgerow with many different species of tree and shrub and a very deep bank.
The farmer had decided that he should combine the two small fields into a more substantial 20 hectare (acre) one - the 8 acre field being a particulalry small size for his machinery. He therefore proposed to tear out the hedging and plough up the field border.
Melinda was particularly impressed by the hedge and noted that it had a particularly well developed ditch, was species rich and looked to have been there for some considerable length of time. She asked the farmer if it was a parish boundary and he did not know so they returned to the farm office to check the maps.
She therefore looked at the maps of the area and this hedge was in fact a Parish Boundary which implied it had been their for hundreds of years.
The Farmer was so impressed that Melinda knew this, that he agreed to keep the hedge.
It seems that the Environmental and Ecological arguments fare poorly in comparison with highlighting Local History, which seems to touch hearts more than anything else.
And this was the happy ending until I contacted Melinda for permission to use her story, this she willingly gave, but added the following postscript to the tale:
Several years later however, the farmer rang Melinda up and said that it was now becoming impossible to keep the two fields separate - there was a big problem of rabbit damage to crops and the hedge and ditch provided shelter for the rabbits, plus the small field size was becoming impossible to manage with modern machinery so regrettably he was going to amalgamate the two fields.
I guess this is where economics becomes the overiding factor