We've reviewed the roadside hedge on the Orchard project.
The approach road to the railway bridge creates an embankment leading from the River Ecclesbourne to the crest of the road bridge.
To improve the natural environment, we're going to coppice the trees growing on the south side of the embankment. The tree canopy blocks out the light and reduces the variety of species growing on the south facing embankment. The existing trees appear not to have been managed for many years. Some of the taller trees overhang the road and railway. When we fell the trees to create the coppice stools we'll have to proceed carefully. We'll use wire cables and winches to ensure the tree fall where we want them to go. We'll probably have to take out most of the trees progressively along the embankment working from the river end toward the railway. This is necessary to create the safe felling space for the larger trees. Within a couple of years though there will be substantial regrowth from the coppice stools, but in the meantime other natural species will have the opportunity to recolonise the embankment.
The roadside hedge needs a lot more attention before we'll have it fully restored. There are gaps from deadwood and also from damage caused by a road accident. We need to make the hedge stock proof, so we are planning to install a 90cm high galvanised wire stock fence along the roadside boundary extending from the river gate to the end of the rail bridge parapet. We measured this and discovered we'll need to install 108 metres of wire stock fencing. The need for the fence is improve public safety and to reduce the chance of livestock escaping on to the road. There is a fence lower down at the foot of the embankment slope, but we'll need, temporarily, to dismantle the fence during the coppicing process.
Once the fence is secure, we'll gradually work on restoring the hedge using traditional layering and replanting at the top of the embankment slope as necessary. Our estimate is it will take about three years before it starts looking like a reasonable countryside style hedge. We'll plant a variety of hedgerow saplings in increase disease resistance and also to provide better variety. Once the hedge is properly re-established we'll remove the wire fencing.