Participative Approaches to Hedgerow Conservation
This thesis demonstrates how systems ideas and grounded theory have been applied to provide a broader approach to researching hedgerows in England, drawing on the idea that holistic thinking brings together different people’s relationships with hedgerows and with each other concerning hedgerows. The cultural dimensions of hedgerows and their implications for future hedged landscapes were investigated through the collection and exploration of different groups perspectives - public, farmers and experts - in England and Canada, using a diversity of primary and secondary data sources. English hedgerows were important to all groups. Everyone liked hedged landscapes for aesthetic, visual and wildlife reasons. They were important for the way they break up the landscape; provide signs of the changing seasons; their sense of mystery and intimacy; their connections with the past and childhood memories. They are also seen as part of England’s history and national identity. Such cultural identity was absent in the Canadian data. However, some groups also held a rational or objective view which was dominant over this subjective or emotional view and which affects where they draw the boundaries to their systems of interest. Farmers were most concerned with their farms (and the hedgerows they owned) as a business, while experts dealt mainly with the ecological aspects of hedgerows. There was found to be little awareness of others groups views with different groups seeing the same action in very different ways. Even where there was contact between farmers and experts, there could be a lack of trust. Finally, it is noted that policy and practice towards hedgerows have ignored many of these relationships and that the approach used here offers opportunities to examine the different systems of interest.