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How unique is this to Britain? Do other countries have similar hedge density?



I don't have a definitive answer, but I've flown to quite a few places around the world and coming back to the UK, the patchwork of fields and hedgerows is really quite distinctive. I can't think of anywhere else that really has them.


Ireland


Good point. A place I have yet o visit. An oversight I must correct.


In many places they were torn down following mechanization as they’re inconvenient when tractoring about.

I know that some places are starting to incentivise planting them again, because bare fields let wind race and as soon as it rains a bit hard half the field ends on the road blocking it.


How many is "many"?

In almost all farms, there are hedges and they simply have gates or gaps in them to move between fields so they shouldn't be so inconvenient that the entire hedge needs to be removed.

I was reading that the UK might only have 30 harvests left before the soil is completely depeleted due to intensive farming and the necessity of fertilisers to try and compensate. If there was better education for farmers, for example access to free consulation, good use of additional flora and correct crop-rotation can increase yields significantly. If someone is cutting down a hedge, it probably proves that they should be first on the list!


> How many is "many"?

Most or all of continental western europe. AFAIK hedges used to be pretty common all over agricultural regions (e.g. belgium, beauce, bresse, bavaria, …), they largely got torn down after WW2, except for north-western france, and a few areas which retained them for historical or cultural reasons (e.g. Monschau).

> In almost all farms, there are hedges and they simply have gates or gaps in them to move between fields so they shouldn't be so inconvenient that the entire hedge needs to be removed.

That requires going to the gate in order to get in and out the field, as well as limit your ability to farm to the edge of the field, and it limits the size of the agricultural equipment you can use short of rebuilding the hedge any time it gets too big.

And the logic was likely that if you’re bringing heavy equipment to open larger gates in your hedge, and removing part of the hedges because land is being consolidated, you might as well remove all of it right now than have to do so every 10 years.


I grew up in Illinois. The fields there are often surrounded on all sides by a narrow woodland area, sometimes only 10s of feet thick.

I was told the woodland areas are maintained as wind barriers for the otherwise flat plains. Not sure how true that is, but they’re definitely home to normal woodland fauna: dear, squirrels, rabbits, turkey, etc.


Yup my grandparents' farm had rows of trees to act as wind barriers. Their farm was large enough that they had 3-4 (don't remember exactly) rows just within their property, never mind the barriers on the property line.


It certainly wasn't unique to Britain at all.

Many of these hedges were removed with farming mechanisation and industrialisation, though, in France for instance, and have completely disappeared in many places.


Indeed - grew-up in the middle of the Kentish countryside during the 70s and witnessed the wholesale removal of thousands of hedges to create the prairie landscape so beloved of "big-farma" (see what I did there).

The wildlife loss was obvious even back then, not to speak of how the intimate Wealden landscape was almost completely despoiled. Luckily the wholesale destruction was slowed when farmers realized these wind and rain-swept prairies were destroying the topsoil.


New Zealand, at least the South Island, had quite a few when I was there 15 years ago. They are used to pen sheep and also deer, although I’m not sure what kind of deer. They are smaller than deer found in North America, and venison is sold in many supermarkets alongside lamb and other meat products.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorse_in_New_Zealand I'd say the 'hedges' are much more dense in NZ :)


I believe Normandy, France, if not a lot of western France, also has hedgerows “bocage”.


Normandy is English! Or vice versa.


The Normans descended from the Norse so not quite.


The British royal family are the descendants of the Norman William the Conqueror.


Their power descends from it. They are intermarried with many European houses, do blood wise they are not so much.


Both!


when flying in to Gatwick (LGW) from MUC 10 yrs ago, the land looked like an image of microscopic cell structures – the hedges were omnipresent. Bavaria knocked down most hedges in the 70ies during "land consolidation" to optimise agricultural land for industrial cultivation:

Coherent and larger patches per owner, rectangular, enterable.

Land here seen from above looks tiled. Not cells.


English fields are Voronoi tesselations, to be specific.


I've seen similar hedges in northern france, particularly Brittany




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