Help protect hedgerow havens

08 September 2010

Did you know that more than 125 of the UK’s most threatened species are associated with hedges? From birds and bees to lizards, bats and dormice, many creatures depend on hedges.

We know hedgerows are important for wildlife, but scientists want to find out more. And from today, people can help by searching the hedges around England for insects and recording them in the Opal Air Laboratories (OPAL) Biodiversity Survey.

The results will help scientists get new insights into the condition of the country’s hedges, and they’ll be able to map them for conservation.

The OPAL Biodiversity Survey is led by The Open University, in association with Hedgelink and Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). It takes about an hour and there is a free identification guide and activity book to download from the website. All the survey results will also be shown in an online map.

Hedges are home to many species of birds, mammals, and insects, such as ladybirds.

Hedges are home to many species of birds, mammals, and insects, such as ladybirds.

'This survey will help uncover new information about biodiversity here in England, where loss of species is occurring at an unprecedented scale,’ says Jonathan Silvertown, Professor of Ecology at The Open University and head of the OPAL Biodiversity Observatory. ‘Learning more about all havens for wildlife, including hedges, means we can protect nature for future generations.'

The survey is part of OPAL's contribution to the UN’s 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. In October, officials from 193 countries will gather in Nagoya, Japan to agree how to tackle global biodiversity loss, and set new targets to conserve biodiversity for the next 10 years.

The plight of rural hedgerows, and the creatures that depend on them, is widely reported but hedges also play a vital role in our urban landscapes. In highly built up areas, hedges are often the only remaining habitat for many species of birds, mammals and insects.

So, help scientists find out more about hedgerows, one of the most diverse habitats in Britain, by taking part in the OPAL Biodiversity Survey.

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