There are around 30,000 miles of Cornish hedges in Cornwall. They are our most prominent landscape feature. Many of these hedges were built in ancient times, the earliest during the neolithic age 4-6,000 years ago! You will find many examples of wildlife on the nature side of Cornwall Uncovered.
With wildlife habitats under continuing threat of extinction, the cornish hedge provides a unique man-made wildlife refuge. Nearly 200 flowering species have been counted in just one mile of cornish hedge providing food for a myriad of insects which in turn attracts mammals, birds and reptiles that use the hedge for food and shelter. Many of these hedges are planted with trees which add beauty to the landscape as well as creating essential shelter for livestock and crops.
How is the hedge built?
The Cornish hedge is very different from the ‘English hedgerow’ in that it is built using local stone with a centre filled with compacted subsoil, typically around 5 feet in height and width at its base. The building of cornish hedges require highly specialised skills that have been handed down over generations and work is being undertaken by several organisations including the AONB to preserve this craft. For more information visit www.cornishhedges.co.uk
Repair and maintenance
Sadly, the overzealous use of mechanised trimmers can destroy much of the hedge’s habitat with up to 3/4 of the wildlife being destroyed. Trimming should ideally be carried out in the winter months with sensitive pruning that allows plants to regrow.