Caring for Jersey's hedgehogs - 01534 734340
In Jersey we have to keep our roadside trees, hedges, banques and verges clear from obstructing the roads by 12 foot (3.7 m) and footpaths by 8 foot (2.4 m).  This is inspected by Law twice a year during the 3 weeks following 24th June and 1st September on different dates in the various Parishes. An administrative penalty of £200 can be imposed by the Parishes' Roads Committees for any infringement. Safety on the roads and footpaths is of paramount importance, some of our lanes are very narrow, and in a wet Spring the vegetation can grow very fast, making walking, riding or even driving dangerous. We have lots of lanes where only one car can pass, even when the sides have been trimmed back.

In recent years, with increasing mechanisation (tractor and flail) of the cutting process, verges, hedges and banques have been damaged, bark taken off trees, roadside walls beneath the banques collapsing into the road with rainfall in the winter and most importantly the diversity of roadside plants has decreased, so that our lanes are no longer edged with beautiful wild flowers but are shaved to the bare earth so that only fast growing plants like brambles flourish.

We are working with other environmental organisations in the Island to try to change attitudes, to get everyone to relax a bit about how neat the verges, hedges and banques have to be - as with your garden, a bit of wildness benefits everything, plants, birds, insects, animals and us! As long as the requirements of the Branchage law are met at all times, not just before the Visites du Branchage.

If the height of the cut is raised then the diversity of low growing plants which are beneficial to insects and other wildlife will be restored and we will get back the beautiful lanes we remember from the past. The Department of the Environment recommend a minimum cut height of 4" or 10 cm. We would prefer it were higher where possible and still keep within the Branchage Law.
We ask that the tops of the banques are left uncut for the first visit du Branchage in June/July and then cut in September.

Linked to this is the problem for hedgehogs and presumably other wildlife (which does not get reported - apparently) when the insides of the hedges and field margins are also cut, even though this is not required under the Branchage Law. Inner margins of hedgerows should not be cut every year and never in the spring or summer.  This may be why we have so many injured hedgehogs every year. Usually the damage is to their heads and noses, which do not heal if the bones are damaged. We think it is during hot weather when hedgehogs lie out in long grass at the edges of fields, not curled up in a nest, as they would do in cooler temperatures.

There are Government schemes in the UK to encourage farmers to leave their field margins for wildlife and not to cut their hedges until later in the year when birds have stopped nesting. Here is the link to the Brirtish Hedgehog Society and Peoples' Trust for Endangered Species guidance leaflet for farmers and landowners on how to manage their land for hedgehogs, which will of course benefit other creatures and the environment itself:

If you are a farmer, landowner or have a garden with a banque, verge or hedge on the roadside, please do everything you can to make our Island beautiful, abundant in wildlife and safe for hedgehogs.

back to strimmer awareness
See new Branchage guidelines 2019
and Branchage do's and don'ts

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