SOCIAL, AESTHETIC AND ECOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF HEDGEROWS IN RURAL LANDSCAPES AS A FRAMEWORK FOR GREENWAYS
Landscape and Urban Planning
Hedgerow network landscapes may be considered as greenways, as they provide agronomic, ecological, aesthetic and cultural benefits. They are among the most threatened agricultural landscapes of western Europe. Intensification of agriculture with the conversion of permanent grassland into ploughed land and the use of new machinery leads to the enlargement of fields and the removal of hedgerows surrounding them, There is a growing concern among conservationists, rural managers and the public to maintain these greenways as a framework for landscape sustainability. In France, hedgerow removal may be planned within reallotment programmes that take into account all the land of a municipality. In this planning process, criteria for keeping or clearing woody elements are based on agronomic properties of soil, environmental quality of elements and of the network, and property boundaries, Aesthetic aspects are rarely assessed. As rural landscapes are shifting from an almost unique function of agricultural production toward a multifunction of nature conservation, environmental protection, amenity and production, the conservation of hedgerow networks becomes of greater importance. The goal is now the protection of these greenways to provide not only ecological but also recreational and cultural benefits. In a case study in Brittany, we tried to link these different aspects. Our work is based on interviews and a landscape ecological survey. We found contrasting opinions between farmers and non-farmers concerning the density of the network. Nevertheless, the two groups agree on the necessity to keep greenways as part of their cultural landscape. Most of the people were not aware of the ecological role of hedgerow networks, and perceive them only by their visual properties. We proposed various scenarios based on ecological and aesthetic principles, and defined general guidelines for the design of new landscapes during reallotment programmes, The integration of different points of view by landscape planners is the only way to link visual values to productive or ecological processes, and must be effective in the case of the management of greenways such as hedgerows.
Author(s): BUREL, F; BAUDRY, J
Journal: Landscape and Urban Planning