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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The frequency and timing of hedgerow cutting effects biodiversity in England and Wales

Published source details

Maudsley M.J., Marshall E.J.P. & West T.M. (2000) Guidelines for hedge management to improve the conservation value of different types of hedge. Defra report.


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Manage hedgerows to benefit wildlife (includes no spray, gap-filling and laying) Farmland Conservation

A replicated study of hedgerows within seven arable and pastoral farms in England and Wales (Maudsley, Marshall & West 2000) found that cutting frequency and timing affected invertebrate numbers but not plant diversity. Abundance of individual invertebrate groups tended to decline with regular hedge cutting. However, although numbers of some taxa such as jumping plant lice (Psyllids) were higher in uncut sections, cutting increased others, notably herbivores and detritivores such as true bugs (Heteroptera; uncut: 4/plot; annual: 22-28; biennial: 15-23), beetles (Coleoptera; uncut: 4/plot; annual: 5-9; biennial: 8-13), springtails (Collembola) and thrips (Thysanoptera). Cutting in February rather than September reduced numbers of butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera; 33 vs 65/plot) and flies (Diptera; 82 vs 118/plot), but increased beetles (Coleoptera; 9-13 vs 5-8) the following summer. Cutting frequency (uncut, annual, biennial and triennial) and timing did not affect numbers of plant species in the hedge or hedge base. Hedge dimensions were greatest on annually cut hedges and smallest on those uncut. The longer the hedge was left between cuts, the more berries were produced (uncut, biennial, annual). Berry numbers were reduced with triennial cuts. Each hedgerow received replicated treatments (15-21) of each cutting frequency and timing. Data were obtained on the abundance of berries (autumn), shrubs, hedge-base flora and invertebrates (May and July) within each hedgerow plot. The same study is presented in Marshall et al. 2001.

Additional reference

Marshall, E. J. P., Maudsley, M. J., West, T. M. and Rowcliffe, H. R. (2001) Effects of management on the biodiversity of English hedgerows. 361-365 in: C. Barr and S. Petit (eds) Hedgerows of the World: Their Ecological Functions in Different Landscapes, International Association for Landscape Ecology, 10th Annual Conference of the International Association for Landscape Ecology. September 2001, Birmingham, UK.