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Hedgerows

Hedgerows

Habitats can come in many different shapes and sizes, all characterized by a mix of different vegetation, usually the more diverse the plantlife, the healthier the habitat is and the more species it can in turn support. On the right, this diverse hedgerow, which can be separated into tiers, is one such diverse habitat. At the top, the trees such as ash and beech shed their leaves every year, which feeds the soil below and their crowns can provide homes to the likes of birds and bats. Below them, the gorse, hawthorn, wild rose and blackberry provide protective cover for nesting birds and small mammals like shrews and mice, and their fruits and flowers are a readily available source of food. Finally, in the lowest layer we can see a mix of smaller non-woody flowering plants, known as forbs, like wild strawberries and the purple-flowered vetch, which is a member of the pea family. 

Fun fact: Hedgerows in Ireland have really only been in place since the 18th Century, when they were planted to mark out different boundaries such as fields and townlands.