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A hedge may consist of a single species or several, typically mixed at random.In many newly planted British hedges, at least 60 per cent of the shrubs are hawthorn, blackthorn, and (in the southwest) hazel, alone or in combination.In parts of Britain, early hedges were destroyed to make way for the manorial open-field system.Many were replaced after the Enclosure Acts, then removed again during modern agricultural intensification, and now some are being replanted for wildlife.A hedge or hedgerow is a line of closely spaced shrubs and sometimes trees, planted and trained to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area, such as between neighbouring properties.Hedges used to separate a road from adjoining fields or one field from another, and of sufficient age to incorporate larger trees, are known as hedgerows.There are thought to be around 1.8 million hedgerow trees in Britain (counting only those whose canopies do not touch others) with perhaps 98% of these being in England and Wales.

Originally property demarcations, hedgerows protect crops and cattle from the ocean winds that sweep across the land.Trees should be left at no closer than 10 metres (33 ft) apart and the distances should vary so as to create a more natural landscape.Hedges are recognised as part of a cultural heritage and historical record and for their great value to wildlife and the landscape.The root word of 'hedge' is much older: it appears in the Old English language, in German (Hecke), and Dutch (haag) to mean 'enclosure', as in the name of the Dutch city The Hague, or more formally 's Gravenhage, meaning The Count's hedge.Charles the Bald is recorded as complaining in 864, at a time when most official fortifications were constructed of wooden palisades, that some unauthorized men were constructing haies et fertés – tightly interwoven hedges of hawthorns.

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