THE current state of our hedgerows and field margins are assessed in a new book.

The ‘Ecology of hedgerows and field margins’ has been edited by Professor John Dover, who worked on farmland butterflies at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) in the 1980s. It sheds new light on the network of hedges, ditches and grass margins that form an integral part of the landscape across most of lowland Britain.

Split into two main sections, the book is aimed at advanced students and researchers and professionals in ecology, agriculture, wildlife conservation, natural history, landscape, environmental and land management.

The first deals with definitions, current and historic management, the impact of pesticides, the decline in hedge stock and condition, and new approaches to hedge evaluation using remote sensing techniques.

The second section explores the pollination and biological pest control benefits provided by hedges and field margins and examines the ecology of some of the major groups that are found in hedgerows and field margins: butterflies and moths, carabid beetles, mammals, and birds.

It was written by leading ecologists, including Professors Nick Sotherton, John Holland and Chris Stoate from the GWCT, culminating in research results that contribute to more enlightened management of hedges for wildlife.

Professor Sotherton, director of research at the trust, said: “Finding reasons to retain field margins and then to improve their management for a range of farmland wildlife groups has been a continuing theme of a research going back to a time when government funds were still available to grub them out. Times have changed for the better as this valuable book records.”

The book costs £39.99, with limited copies remaining in the GWCT online shop.