The results are back from Redlingfield’s Hedgerow Survey and the village’s star status as a wildlife haven has been confirmed by Suffolk Hedgerow Survey chairman Guy Ackers.
More than half of the field boundaries in the village were surveyed by group leader Chris Gibbons, his wife Midge, Linda Hudson, Stephen Ling, Mike Ager and Janet Norman-Philips.
Redlingfield was the 304th parish survey to be completed in the county and the 67th in Mid Suffolk. The survey started in June 2008, lapsed and then restarted in 2010 and surveyed 43 landscape hedgerows and another 10 field boundaries without hedges. There was also another boundary with no access and about 41 field boundaries not surveyed, making a total of 94 field boundaries.
Guy Ackers was particularly pleased that the village had three veteran oaks in hedgerows – veterans are oaks with diameter of more than 3.2 metres (ten-and-a-half feet). He wrote that “they are almost certainly a boundary marker and therefore indicate great age of the hedgerow network in the parish”.
Hedgerows with 13 or more species are considered exceptional and a trio of the hedgerows surveyed had 13 species, two were home to 14 species and one hedge had 16. More than half the hedgerows in the parish are species rich.
Guy Ackers added that this would “indicate some historical age and underline the fact that the species rich hedgerow network in the parish will support a good variety of wildlife, using the hedgerows as host and food plants, for nesting, refuge and for corridors to move between”.
Redlingfield’s hedgerows are also particularly densely packed into a small area making it a “really beautiful landscape”. He added that it was “clear to see that the parish is very well endowed with an excellent coverage of species richness which speaks volumes for the parish and the wildlife supported by the hedgerow network”.
He wrote that “the distribution of hedgerows is pretty concentrated in parts of the parish and this may suggest that a, there has been little removal of hedgerows in parts during the Whitehall Agricultural Policy days of the 60s and 70s and, that there may still be just a few examples of the old feudal system of field boundaries prior to the Enclosures Act of the mid 18th century”.
He added: “In my view, the parish is heading for stardom and it would be well worthwhile to finish the study lf you can in order to confirm the parish is in the hall of fame for its species rich hedgerow network.”
The survey may restart once the leaves are back on the trees. Anyone interested in joining the survey or finding out more about what is involved contact Chris Gibbons on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01379 678169.