The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is calling on local authorities to halt all hedge cutting between now and September because of the threat to nesting birds.
Thousands of miles of hedgerow were grubbed out in the last few decades of the 20th Century to create larger fields to make way for bigger farm machines, a move encouraged by generous grants from MAFF. It was one of the biggest disasters in history for British birdlife.
Some local authorities still trim hedges at this time of the year yet the RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe, says that more than 40 bird species which use hedgerows to raise young could be scared off and nests destroyed.
Common birds like the blackbird and robin and more elusive species such as the bullfinch and spotted flycatcher often seek nesting sites in hedgerows and hedgerow trees..
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Director of Conservation, says: "Hedgerows are bristling with life and alive with the song of wild birds at this time of year. They are one of our most important wildlife habitats, hosting a huge variety of species in a relatively small area.
"We are urging councils not to trim hedges until the autumn and let their residents enjoy the wildlife that will quickly take advantage."
- In a new leaflet, Protecting hedgerows for birds, the RSPB has drawn up a set of best practice guidelines to help landowners keep their land wildlife-friendly. For a copy of Protecting hedgerows for birds, call the Wildlife Enquiries unit on 01767 680551.