Image: Andy Hay
Scrub is an important wildlife habitat, whether it is a few isolated shrubs or young trees, or a dense thicket. It is a natural part of other habitats, such as grassland and woodland, and an important component of the landscape.
These guidelines are for managing the most common farmland scrub species. Hawthorn is the most widespread, growing mostly on neutral and calcareous soils. Blackthorn dominates on deeper, more fertile soils, and willows on damp ground.
Taking account of existing habitats and important landscape features when you are creating or managing scrub will help you to avoid damaging them. Consider the impact of your work on the landscape, and on species-rich grasslands and archaeological sites in particular.
Well-managed scrub and its margins support a range of wildlife. Scrub provides nectar, seeds, fruits, shelter and nest sites for invertebrates, birds and mammals. It also offers suitable habitat for many flowering plants.
Diverse scrub is the mostvaluableto wildlife
Scrub of varied age, species and structure supports the widest range of wildlife, as some species depend on specific growth stages of certain plants. Some species require particular shrubs and others a range of habitats in a small patch of scrub. It is important to maintain all growth stages, from bare ground through young and old growth to decaying wood.
Scrub edges are an important habitat
The scrub edge is often rich in flowering plants. These provide nectar for insects and seeds for birds and mammals. Tall herbs and grasses growing along the edge of scrub offer shelter for small mammals, nest sites for birds and hunting areas for barn owls and kestrels.
Scrub structure is important for birds
Birds nest in a range of scrub types. Yellowhammers, linnets, grasshopper warblers and whitethroats favour young, scattered scrub. Dunnocks and willow warblers use low-growing, closed canopy scrub. Turtle doves, song thrushes and bullfinches use older, mature stands of scrub. Nightingales require very dense stands of, for example, blackthorn or brambles.
Left unmanaged, scrub will develop into woodland. It requires periodic maintenance to retain its character and value to wildlife. It may also need managing to prevent it from threatening other wildlife, archaeological or landscape interests. You can manage scrub using one, or several, of the following measures:
Helping plants to establish
Protection from browsing
Restoration and maintanence of existing scrub
Aim to create or enhance the following features:
Grazing and browsing
Edge management by mowing or flailing
Last updated: 2 December 2008
Scrub is an important wildlife habitat, whether it is a few isolated shrubs or young trees, or a dense thicket.
How to create and manage shrub