THE FINAL ILLUSTRATED VERSION OF THE BRANCHAGE BOOKLET IS AVAILABLE ON OUR FACEBOOK JERSEY WILD HEDGEHOG FORUM PAGE AS IT IS A PDF FILE I CANNOT UPLOAD IT TO THIS SITE DIRECTLY. HERE IS THE LINK TO THE ILLUSTRATED VERSION
Now also published on the gov.je website so available to all even without facebook! Guidelines
Many thanks to Chris Perkins, Cassie Horton, Bob Tompkins, Neil Singleton, Allison Caldeira, Dominic Wormell and Rose Anne Mitchell for all their work in producing this document in conjunction with the Natural Environment Team at Growth, Housing and Environment, the Constables' Committee and the Jersey Farmers' Union.
The Branchage law dates back to 1914 and is solely concerned with road safety. It does not take into consideration the changing seasons or the impact on the environment brought about by the branchage process. Landowners/tenants have responsibility for ensuring that there are no obstructions over footpaths and roads – 8ft in height over a footpath and 12ft over roads. However (and this is a key factor), there have been no guidelines in place to indicate at what height from the banque the foliage should be cut and a perception has erroneously developed over the years that banques should be ‘neat and tidy’. The natural environment is, of course, not neat and tidy and unfortunately it is this perception which has changed the landscape of our island. By cutting the vegetation back to bare earth, a number of changes have come about, such as:
· An increase in the number of dominating perennial species (such as Alexanders, nettles and brambles) which are far harder to manage and cut. A subsequent loss of biodiversity in (often rare) plant species and fewer flowering species making the Island’s hedgerows crucially less attractive to wildlife. The predominance of these pioneer species means that banques have to be cut more often.
· Soil erosion and damage or collapse to stone walls, caused by excessive flailing of banques, which results in mud contaminating the roads during increasingly wet weather.
· Injury and very often death of critically endangered insect, reptilian and mammalian species.
The main recommendations of the Branchage guidelines are:-
· During the first branchage, cut only the sides of the banque to a minimum height of 10cm, leaving the vegetation uncut on the top of the banque (as long as it does not overhang the road).
· On the second branchage in September, cut the sides and also optionally the top of the banque to a minimum height of 10cm.
The Law requires that vegetation is cut to a minimum clearance of 8 feet (2.4m) above public footpaths and 12 feet (3.7m) above roads, measured vertically from the point at which the surface of the road or footpath meets the banques. Therefore, the tops of banques can be left uncut on the first branchage visit (as long as that vegetation doesn’t overhang the road or footpath) and then cut to a minimum height of 10 cm on the second branchage – see diagram.
USE YOUR SKILL TO RAISE THE FLAIL HEAD ENOUGH TO AVOID EXPOSING BARE SOIL.
· DURING THE FIRST BRANCHAGE, CUT ONLY THE SIDES OF THE BANQUE TO A MINIMUM HEIGHT OF 10 CM.
· LEAVE THE VEGETATION UNCUT ON THE TOP OF THE BANQUE, AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT OVERHANG THE ROAD.
· ON THE SECOND BRANCHAGE IN SEPTEMBER, CUT THE SIDES AND TOP OF THE BANQUE TO A MINIMUM HEIGHT OF 10 CM.
· LEAVE TUSSOCKS OF VEGETATION FOR WILDLIFE WHERE POSSIBLE.
· TRY TO REMOVE ALL CUTTINGS; DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO COVER THE BANQUE OR FALL INTO THE ROAD.
· CHECK FOR THE PRESENCE OF WILDLIFE IN THE VEGETATION, HEDGES AND TREES.
· CONTACT JSPCA IF YOU FIND AN INJURED ANIMAL (TEL: 01534 724331).
· TRY TO IDENTIFY RARE OR UNCOMMON PLANTS AND DON’T CUT THEM ON THE FIRST BRANCHAGE, BUT DO CUT ON THE SECOND BRANCHAGE.
· CUT WITH HAND TOOLS WHENEVER POSSIBLE
CUT THE VEGETATION AROUND THE BASE OF TREES, SHRUBS OR HEDGES.
· DESTROY NESTS OR ROOSTS OR INJURE NESTING BIRDS, BATS, HEDGEHOGS OR OTHER WILDLIFE.
· CARRY OUT MAJOR HEDGE CUTTING IN THE BIRD BREEDING SEASON (1ST MARCH—31ST JULY).
· CUT SO SEVERELY THAT BARE SOIL IS EXPOSED.
· CUT LOWER THAN 10 CM.
· USE HERBICIDES FOR ROUTINE BRANCHAGE PRACTICE.
· FLAIL OR STRIM JAPANESE KNOTWEED (separate leaflet available – Search ‘Japanese Knotweed’ on www.gov.je)
· LEAVE CUTTINGS SCATTERED ACROSS THE BANQUE.
· CUT THE INNER MARGIN OF HEDGEROWS EVERY YEAR, AND NEVER IN THE SPRING OR SUMMER.
· CUT RARE OR ENDANGERED PLANTS.
For more information and guidance regarding branchage practice and habitat management, please contact either the Natural Environment Team at Growth, Housing & Environment: Tel 01534 441600 or The National Trust for Jersey: Tel 01534 483193. For injured wildlife please contact the JSPCA: Tel 01534 724331. For Asian Hornet sightings please phone 01534 441633.