The ground flora and verges along our hedgerows were not surveyed at the same time as the hedgerow surveys, mainly because of the time limits, the small number of experienced surveyors and the large number of hedgerows to be surveyed. This most important part of the survey is now being tackled - local volunteers, especially those with any botanical experience would be most welcome.
The Verge Surveys will help to give a broad idea of the flora across the parish and will help with records of the fauna especially the invertebrates, considerably under recorded in Horndean apart from the LNRs and on the butterfly transects. The surveys will include some 'important' verges that do not have a hedgerow.
Examples of local VERGES
Method to be adopted
3 methods or levels of survey will be used in order to survey the largest number of verges possible in the time available, ideally they will all be visited twice, an early visit in April/May and a summer visit July/Aug.
(A) A 2x1 metre quadrat using the 'defra' method and forms (Pages 32 and 33 of the defra handbook). This would normally be within the 30 metre sections already recorded for shrub and tree species.
(B) A species list for the entire legth of the hedgerow using the back of the existing local form and giving the frequency of each species using just 4 levels - D (dominant) F (frequent) O (occasional) and R (rare).
(C) A metre wide belt transect across the verge, mainly on wide road verges to show ZONAL changes and may indicate the effects of winter salt spreading (halophytes), shading, soil condition, drainage etc.
Horndean is in a special geographical position of containing species of the SW and SE regions (atlantic and continental) and also a transitional area between chalk downland (unimproved grassland) in the north - largely within the E.Hants AONB and tertiary clays and sands with small areas of heathland in the south bordering on the Forest of Bere where many of the hedgerows have been lost or absorbed within housing areas but where a few relics still survive. In total, up to 20 verges will be selected for surveys. For all surveys a risk assessment will be carried out. The main H & S risk is from road traffic and stings, bites and scratches from the resident wildlife.
Threats and Concerns - Is there a Dilemma for Rights of Way ?
Not counting the paths and bridleways, the road network in Horndean ranges from very narrow country lanes to motorways and the general rule is that the wider the road the wider the grass verge, a situation that has been created over many years as farming, land use and transport needs have evolved. It leaves the dilemma of balancing road improvements against maintaining the rural character. Road widening and providing better sight lines could lead to resiting or complete loss of hedgerows. The hedgerows and verges along our narrow lanes are of value to wildlife but they have become dangerous to all users. Pedestrians, horse riders, cyclist and all sizes of motor vehicles, from farm equipment to joy riders. I see no easy solution.
Several verges in the parish do however have a seasonal covering of wild flowers some with primroses and bluebells in the spring and then later on a continuous cover of cow parsley. Management ranges from neat cutting and mowing to a 'left to grow' jungle of brambles, thistles and nettles. many of the best verges from a wild flower aspect are on the slope of a bank and ditch profile.
This survey is concerned with the ground flora and fauna on both sides of a hedgerow as a preliminary study towards greater awareness of which verges are worth good management and protection.
A Different Viewpoint - A Different Viewpoint - EHDC and the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum aim to identify any verges in this area that could become more useful to users of the rights of way if they were kept in better order if they were cut back further and more often. Very few, if any, could be improved in this way. There are a few that are enclosed by barbed wire and posts making right of way often very narrow and cannot be used in winter by horses and walkers, owing to deep puddles and mud being churned up by horses. But very few badly maintained routes would benefit from vegetation being cut back. On the best (usually ancient) hedgerows the ground flora and verge is sloped or has a fairly steep bank and cutting back would not be feasible so I do not think there is any conflict of interest in the Horndean area.
The A3 and the A3(M) present a special case where the verges and roundabouts present a special area with an often rich flora, especially orchids. A few areas are accessible for some representative surveys to be carried out.
Web design by Digital Phenomena