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Why not get outdoors and survey your local hedgerow?

New bilingual app allows anyone with access to a smartphone to help survey and protect our amazing hedgerows

Some of them may be thousands of years old, the remnants of when the land was first cleared for agriculture. Now they are the sinews of the Welsh landscape, offering nectar rich blossom for a profusion of buzzing insects. Now members of the public are being asked to help survey and record our amazing hedgerows, using a specially designed bilingual app, which is entirely free.

It’s all part of the Long Forest project which aims is to deliver practical action to protect and improve our amazing hedgerows, recruiting thousands of volunteers to plant 100,000 trees and improve around 120,000m of hedgerow. It’s a partnership between Keep Wales Tidy and the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw), with support from the National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Esmée Fairburn Foundation.

The project aims to survey over 50,000m of hedgerow across Wales, gaining vital information about their condition and the tree species within them. To do this, it has developed the Long Forest App which allows just anyone with a smartphone to survey hedgerows and identify hedgerow species quickly and easily, whatever their level of experience. The app can be used in all areas of Wales, even where there is no mobile phone signal. There’s even handy Species ID guide to see what is in any length of hedgerow surveyed. The bilingual app is now available to download on Google Play and Apple App store for Android and IOS, under the name “Long Forest”.

'Hipping and hawing'

One person who has already made use of the app is Brian Palmer, a retired Leadership Development and Programme Manager from Llandderfel near Bala in North Wales, who is also an active volunteer for the Woodland Trust. He says of the app: “It would be a great thing to take on a walk with the kids or the grandkids. It’s ideal for families. I find it really easy to use. You can record a section of hedgerow and them come back and take up where you left the day before.

“Hedgerows are ancient woodlands in miniature. They have a huge range of species and habitats so we need to look after them. If you do it in autumn, you can combine it with foraging, hipping and hawing as we used to call it when I was a kid. We used to make rosehip syrup out of hips and jam from the hawthorn berries!”