Recommendations for biodiversity conservation in hedgerows and trees

by | Apr 5, 2023 | Projects of WWOOF Italy, Training

from Enrico Bocchi – 15 May 2022

Whether they are found in natural, rural, or public and private parks, it is important that hedgerows maintain their function as bastions of biodiversity, preserving evidence of vegetation that was sacrificed to make way for agriculture and settlement, while at the same time allowing for the reintroduction or introduction of those species that are most rehabbed or disappeared as a result of human activities.

In a context where we still continue to consume soil and wild vegetation with a waste of resources that is as extensive as it is unjustified, preserving what exists and increasing it by planting new hedges and trees is certainly a laudable and gratifying gesture, and in times of climate change it is even more so if we can encourage the arrival of Mediterranean species while simultaneously maintaining Alpine ones.

Whether he or she leads a small farm or a large latifundia, every farmer can therefore devote some of his or her time to biodiversity conservation, and he or she can do so while maintaining an efficient agrarian ecosystem and combating hydrogeological disruption.

In my opinion, however, undertaking renaturation or environmental restoration activities should not be a pretext for an additional expenditure of resources, either for the farmer or the community; these are jobs for which little is needed, I would say truly on a human scale.

From a strictly practical point of view, beyond biodiversity-related motivations, I add a few fundamentals that can help achieve good results.

  1. Be clear about the practical purpose before planting a new hedge, and based on that purpose, carefully choose suitable species to carry out the project.
  2. Consider for the choice as many species as possible among those typical of the area, perhaps adding some from neighboring areas; important at this juncture to know well the characteristics of the terrain, the type of climate, the maximum size the hedge will be able to reach, and also local regulations that establish distances from boundaries and various easements.
  3. Always proceed with planting in the autumn months, which avoids the need for irrigation systems.
  4. Never fertilize the soil; the wild plants that make up a hedge will do well if they are chosen wisely.
  5. Do not introduce fruit varieties into hedgerows, which, in addition to being unsuitable, may force treatments where animal and plant species that do not tolerate them live, or even may habituate animals to consume fruit not intended for them.
  6. Give preference, as much as possible, to the free form of each of the species in the hedge.
  7. To favor in the choice of species, those that are less frequent or rare, and to avoid instead those that are ubiquitous and invasive, which, as a rule, manage to propagate well on their own.
  8. Employ propagating and stolonating species only in situations where their proliferation is not a problem.
  9. Use only evergreens for windbreak hedges.
  10. Do not hinder in any way the growth of herbaceous and juvenile species under the hedge, avoiding unnecessary and harmful mowing; as the years go by, hedges become an ideal place to find young seedlings that can be explanted and deported elsewhere when spring growth resumes.
  11. Do not hesitate in the slightest to suppress unwanted species, removing them when they are in bloom.

Pubblicato da Claudio per WWOOF Italia

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