Over the past 25 years there has been increasing concern over the future of the hedgerow tree. This project sets out to investigate the maturity and health of hedgerow oak trees in the south of the Wirral in the County of Merseyside.
A pilot-study of roadside trees and six field transects was carried out and information about oak tree DBH, timber and total heights, together with a description of the trees health and general maturity class recorded. It was found that the age-class structure of the population was extremely unbalanced, with very few young trees. The average DBH was around 60cm, and the majority of trees (around 64%) were over-mature. At present their management poses many problems, as approximately 80% have no potential for sawlog production. A management plan for hedgerow trees is needed if they are not to be lost from the countryside in the long-term.
Groups of trees planted on areas of unused land such as field corners, near buildings and on roadsides should produce better quality sawlogs than those produced in hedgerows. Trees planted in groups may also be better for bird-life than individual trees in the hedgerow. However, all proposals should be considered in the light of the next stage of the Common Agricultural Policy, which may result in large areas of farmland being turned over to forestry or being left unused.
The conclusion reached is that oak trees within
hedgerows are unlikely to remain a major feature of the British countryside in
the future, due to a lack of effective management and changing farming
I would like to thank the following people for their help in the completion of this project:
Dr. M.P. Denne, for her help and advice and for checking the draft copies.
Dr. J.C. Hetherington, for his help on the subject of the calculation of total tree volume.
Mr. M. Page, Wirral Borough Council's Tree Officer, for providing large scale maps of the area.
Colonel Williams, owner of the Lever-Hulme Estate, for his permission to carry out the survey.
Mr.A.J.W. Milner, for giving me a tour of his gfarm and for his interest in the project.
Those tenant farmers who repied to my letters and
allowed me to survey on their land.
© 1987 Robert I. Bradshaw