Manage hedges to benefit bats
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Hedgerows on farms may be subject to various management practices, including cutting. However, there is evidence that bats prefer taller, wider, structurally diverse hedgerows and those with emergent trees (e.g. Boughey et al 2011, Lacoeuilhe et al 2016). Reducing the cutting frequency of hedges, planting trees within hedges, retaining and maintaining existing emergent trees, minimising pesticide use and filling gaps within hedges are all likely to benefit bats. For studies that may carry out this intervention alongside other interventions to benefit bats on farmland, see ‘Introduce agri-environment schemes’.
Boughey K.L., Lake I.R., Haysom K.A. & Dolman P.M. (2011) Improving the biodiversity benefits of hedgerows: how physical characteristics and the proximity of foraging habitat affect the use of linear features by bats. Biological Conservation, 144, 1790–1798.
Lacoeuilhe A., Machon N., Julien J.-F. & Kerbiriou C. (2016) Effects of hedgerows on bats and bush crickets at different spatial scales. Acta Oecologica, 71, 61–72.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, paired sites study in 2008 on 13 pairs of farms in Scotland, UK (Fuentes-Montemayor et al 2011) found that hedges managed for wildlife on agri-environment scheme farms had similar activity of Pipistrellus species as hedges on conventional farms. The activity of common pipistrelles Pipistrellus pipistrellus and soprano pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus was similar along hedges managed for wildlife and along conventionally managed hedges (data reported as statistical model results). On agri-environment scheme farms, hedges had gaps filled, hedge bottoms were left unmown, and pesticide use and cutting was restricted (cut once every three years). Each of 13 hedges on agri-environment scheme farms were paired with 13 hedges on conventional farms with similar farming activities and surrounding habitats. No details are reported about the management of hedges on conventional farms. Each of 13 paired sites was sampled once on the same night in June–September 2008. Bat activity was recorded along transects (2.5–3.7 km long) from 45 minutes after sunset using bat detectors.Study and other actions tested