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The meaning of hedgerows in the English landscape: Different stakeholder perspectives and the implications for future hedge management

Journal of Environmental Management


This paper investigates the cultural dimensions of hedged landscapes and their implications for managing future hedged landscapes, through the collection and exploration of different stakeholder perspectives. The aim of the research was to obtain a holistic view of peoples relationship with hedgerows and each other. This was done using a systemic inquiry process based on grounded theory that involved drawing theories out of multiple data sources to consider the perspectives of various groups of people (farmers, the public and professional advisors). A computer database package was used that allowed the categorisation of the respondents' perspectives as the data was being added to the database. Hedgerows were viewed by all the participants as part of the English cultural landscape. They were not just a means for conserving biodiversity in the countryside but part of England's history and national identity. They were appreciated for providing signs of the changing seasons; for the way they break up the landscape; for their sense of mystery and intimacy; for their connections with the past and childhood memories; and for their contribution to a sense of place. Although there was a high degree of commonality in the way the different groups viewed hedgerows in the landscape, differences were found in relation to management practices and their implications for the hedgerow wildlife and aesthetics. It is argued that although differences in views are frequently acknowledged, little consideration has been given to these aspects, especially the importance all groups place on the aesthetic appreciation of landscapes, within existing hedgerow protection policies. The analysis reveals a wide divide between expert and lay persons' appreciation of landscape. It concludes that participation of all stakeholder perspectives, on an equal basis, can lead to more holistic landscape research, policy and decision-making processes that take account of the less measurable aspects of landscape. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Author(s): Oreszczyn, S; Lane, A

Journal: Journal of Environmental Management

Year: 2000


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