The Great British Hedgerow Survey
Before you start the Great British Hedgerow Survey
Get permission - Whether you are surveying hedges as part of a wildlife group, a hedge group or contributing as an individual, if you do not own the land you will need to check with the landowner that they are happy for you to survey and send us this survey data. Please do not upload any data for which you have not got permission to share.
When to survey - For this survey it is important to be able to identify the woody species in your hedge, so we recommend doing this survey in any season that the hedges are in leaf, most likely April to October. Although it is possible to identify these species from their twigs, it is more likely that some species get missed and the hedge data doesn't reflect the true diversity of the hedge, it is also nearly impossible to accurately estimate the % coverage of species when their leaves are not out.
Check your tree ID skills - As part of the survey, we ask you to tell us which woody species are growing in a 30m sample of your hedge. Before you go out it may be worth checking that you are comfortable identifying the species on our survey form list. If not, this is a great opportunity to scratch up on your tree identification skills! There are many fantastic guides to help you identify native tree species, so if you have a favourite guide or book do take it with you. Alternatively there are some great online guides that might help you, like this A-Z of UK native trees from the Woodland Trust or download this rough guide to hedges from CPRE.
How to survey
Please do make sure you read the survey guidelines before going out to survey a hedge. The guidelines give great hints and tips on what to take with you and will help you know what to expect from the survey before you start. If you would like to take a reference copy, this can be downloaded here.
It is also worth familiarising yourself with the different hedge structures you might encounter before you start your survey. You can download this version if you would like to print one and use it as a reference.
What you will need
- A survey form (download here) for each hedge or complete the survey directly to this website
- A measuring stick, preferably 2m or so, marked at 10cm intervals
- An ID guide to common British plant and tree species
- Appropriate footwear
- Survey instructions
- Hedge structure key
Ready to survey?
Online- If you have a smartphone or a tablet and are able to complete this survey directly to the website, then login, and get surveying! This method means you will receive instant feedback about the condition of the hedge and the best management options for it in the future. It also means you can pinpoint the hedge on a map which helps us ensure the location data is as accurate as possible, and best of all means you don't have to type up your results afterwards.
On paper - If you do not have the technology for this or there is not enough signal by your hedge, do not worry, you can download and print paper copies here: | Survey form | Guidance | Hedge structure images |
The management advice generated from this survey is based on the hedgerow management cycle and relies on you filling out each field of the survey. If you are aware of any plant insect or animal species in your hedge, rare or otherwise, that have more specific management requirements, please seek further advice before proceeding.
Management of a site should certainly take the landscape approach, and the local area should be considered before engaging in management. Taking the cycle approach to management means hedges over the site will be in different stages of their lifecycle. This is to be encouraged and improves the number of different niches available to wildlife. We recommend that no more than 5% of the hedges on any site should be layed or coppiced in any one year as although they rejuvenate the condition of the hedge in the long term, they reduce the connectivity and habitat for wildlife in the shorter term.
This tool gives you information about the best way to manage as part of a cycle, but you will need to contextualise this within your setting, e.g roads and routes should be managed for safety as you otherwise would.