World record hedgelaying bid

Ahead of this year’s National Hedgerow Week (running all this week), more than 60 hedgelayers from around the UK and Ireland converged on East Hampshire for a Guinness World Record attempt for the longest stretch of hedge laid in 12 hours.

Dr Francis Buner, senior scientist at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) was called upon for scientific advice and to act as ‘specialist witness’ for the world record attempt.

The event at the Rotherfield Park Estate resulted in a remarkable 555.4 metres of hedges laid in approximately seven and a half hours – a speed of nearly 80 metres of hedge laying per hour.

So far, £6,550 has been raised by the event, being split between prostate and breast cancer charities and the Ukraine DEC appeal.

Francis said: “Hedgelaying is a beautiful rural tradition and the people practising it are simply lovely. In times gone by hedgelaying was a necessity to keep livestock in fields, each region having its own typical style. Once the hedge has grown back, it will be beaming with wildlife once again.”

With a mix of amateurs and professionals from the National Hedgelaying Society and the National Hedgelaying Society of Ireland all working in 10m strips, the attempt saw over 60 hedgelayers getting involved.

Conditions at Rotherfield Park Estate meant that this record attempt was difficult to compare to a previous hedgelaying record achieved, of just over 280 metres of hedge laid in 12 hours by two people, which it is assumed was undertaken by professional hedgelayers working on optimal hedges.

As well as being useful to farmers, wildlife monitoring by the GWCT has shown that proper management of hedgerows, including hedgelaying, is highly beneficial to wildlife.

Francis added: “I have been doing bird surveys in the area where these hedges were laid since 2010. In that time farmland birds of conservation concern, such as skylark, linnet, yellowhammer, dunnock and song thrush have increased by more than 90 per cent. That is testament to the efforts of Rotherfield team to improve habitat on their farm. During the same period, these birds have continued to decline nationally.

“Whether this is a world record or not, we will find out once all the paperwork has been processed. Regardless, everyone, from the charities and the local community to the wildlife, is a winner.”

National Hedgerow Week began in 2021 to highlight the immense contribution these unsung heroes of the natural world make in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss and to raise awareness of the threats they face.

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