A project promoting a key part in South Hams ecosystems launched last Saturday at the Kingsbridge Show.

South Hams Society is imploring people to observe the hedgerows around them and become aware of their current condition as part of its new ‘Rate Your Hedges’ initiative.

The initiative was encouraged by both Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and chairperson of the parliamentary select committee for health, and Neil Parish MP, chairperson of the parliamentary select committee for DEFRA, at the Kingsbridge Show last Saturday.

SHS has created a leaflet, which shows five-star rated categories of Devon hedges. It is designed to encourage children and adults travelling along our lanes by car to look at our hedges, which it says are “so valuable for our environment, our communities and our economy”.

SHS claims the leaflet is “completely non-technical”, but “draws attention to the quintessential values of hedges in good husbandry which: absorb carbon and traffic fumes; provide nesting sites and food for birds; create migration routes for dormice and insects; shelter farm livestock and wildlife from the weather; and source wood fuel.”

The project recognises that farmers need to manage their hedges by regular flailing between September 1 and February 28, but suggests a simple management regime which incurs no additional cost, time or detrimental effect on farming efficiency.