Planting hedges to help Jersey’s birds
Whilst the flock of Manx Loaghtan sheep are busy opening patches through the bracken that is being cleared, and preventing it from coming back, further inland the conservation fields of Le Don Hodges are being enhanced by planting trees for hedges. These 14 fields, comprising a total of 50 vergees of land, were purchased by the National Trust for Jersey through a donation in 2012, and are being managed to enhance the local wildlife. An agreement was established with the Jersey Royal Company to allow for the utilisation of some of these fields for potato crops in exchange for a management regime more sensitive to wildlife and the planting of wildlife crops in the fields once the potatoes are harvested. Some of these fields are cultivated in rotation to create a mosaic of spring cereals and seed mixes, while others will never be cultivated and have been sown with wildflower mixes to create permanent, insect-rich grasslands. Many farmland birds rely on these crops as a source of food during the cold months of winter, when insects are less abundant or in hibernation. If it wasn’t for these crops many chaffinches, goldfinches, greenfinches and linnets would not make it through the winter.
With the permanent grassland and wildflower fields providing insects during spring and summer, and cereals and other seed-rich crops on the fields to provide the winter food, the hedges are the last piece of this puzzle. Hedges provide cover from predators near their feeding grounds, nesting opportunities, food for many insects that the birds will feed on, and buds and berries for the birds to feed on from spring to autumn.
In 2012 the NTJ was awarded funding to buy 8,000 trees for hedges, of which almost 5,000 were planted around the Le Don Hodges fields by participants of the Back to Work Scheme and teams of volunteers during weekend community events. The remaining trees will be planted early in 2013 and within the next few years they will grow into thick, luscious and berry-loaded hedges that will provide the birds with a safe breeding habitat.
It is hoped that the restored habitats can soon provide our threatened birds with all they need to survive and thrive throughout the year.
In 2012, 8,000 trees for hedges cost just under £6,400 to purchase. The trees were planted in 2013 mainly by Back to Work Scheme participants and in two separate volunteer events. Work in Year 1 took approximately four weeks for a team of 12 people to plant all the trees. This work has only been possible through volunteer schemes and events.
Plant further hedges as required. Potential cost of £3,000 per year for purchase of trees and management.
Total Cost for a 5 year project = £18,400