Saturday, March 02, 2013

And I almost drove off the road...

It's not very often when I hear someone on the radio promoting the idea of hedgerow plantings - but yesterday was just that day.

NPR ran a nice little story - Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees - that highlighted some of the modern pressures that face bee populations.  The story was engaging for us in Illinois as it recalled the work of Charles Robertson - a professor at Blackburn College in Carlinville IL who studied bee-plant interactions from 1887-1916.

The bottom line is that we need pollinators, and those pollinators need habitat. This may be a critical niche where post-modern hedgerows can serve the natural world. This isn't a new idea, as the work of Robertson points out, but it's gratifying to see these ideas get attention from the occasional 21st century land manager and researcher. Robertson recorded over 1400 insects in his day - which is roughly equal to a 2012 survey of organisms and insects that occupied a hedgerow in the Devon region of the UK.

It's funny how humans sort through some of these issues. We've drained wetlands only to spend vast sums building new ones. Maybe hedgerows - adaptable for many purposes - will soon be getting their 15 minutes of fame?

7 comments:

A Lady's Life said...

Oh I like the idea of hedgerows.They keep wind away and are great for bees and other insects which we need to stay there like spiders.

Tree Guardian said...

Is the idea that hedgerows can act as way stations, rest stops if you will, for bees traveling from one area to another? If this is correct, it sounds like the observation made back when I helped out on prairie studies in the early 90's. The scientists concluded that burning prairies is beneficial but you have to leave areas unburned as refuge for the animals, insects, etc to move to and survive the burn.

Dave Coulter said...

ALL - Great minds think alike, I see!

TG - Some of the things I have read do indicate that they can act as a way stations, if you will. Seems like these would be all the more important in monocultural situations?

troutbirder said...

The only rows of any kind we have left here in much of Bluff Country are soybeans and corn (ethanol).

Dave Coulter said...

troutbirder - That seems to be the problem all over the Midwest!

Tree Guardian said...

I work with a group in McHenry County(IL)that works with private landowners to get them to preserve mature trees, mostly Oaks and Hickories. Perhaps this same kind of thing can be done to get landowners to preserve hedgerows or replant them. Education is the key.

Dave Coulter said...

TG - Saving mature native trees should be another -rather obvious- practice to make life better for humans and wildlife. Keep up the good work! :)