Update - Hedge Cutting Programme
Thursday 07 June 2012
Environment Department response to media enquiry from Guernsey Press.
Guernsey Press enquiry:
Below are a few questions I would like to put to Environment with regards to hedge cutting programme particularly around the ITEX walk.
Can you briefly explain the hedge cutting programme?
A number of areas along the ITEX walk have been identified as overgrown - have these been dealt with? If not why?
Can you explain why the programme is not as extensive as previous years? Is it to do with the department's budget?
Has the bad weather lately been an factor too?
Environment Department response:
The cliff path cutting commences in the first half of May each year, with sections rotated so that wild flowers are cut at different times each year. The rotation, specified by the botanists of La Societe Guernesiaise, has been very successful and ensures the wonderful displays of flowering plants along the cliffs. Which is of course one of the main reasons people so enjoy the cliff walks.
If the cut started earlier it would mean many more flowering plants would be cut when they were at their best and many would not have an opportunity to set seed. This would have a significant impact on Guernsey's biodiversity, not only affecting the plants but also greatly reducing the number of insects and butterflies that feed upon them. It would also be a huge loss to many visitors who come to the island specifically to see the wildflowers on the cliffs at this time of year.
The cliff path cut from La Valette to Pleinmont takes a minimum of ten weeks to complete. As less than half the cliff paths are cut by the time the annual ITEX walk takes place it is inevitable that some areas are longer than others.
The Environment Department works closely with the ITEX organisers each year and in addition to the scheduled cut endeavours to attend to any specific areas that are reported to it as particularly difficult to pass through.
However as anyone with a garden will be aware, the volume of recent rainfall combined with a very warm spell in the last two weeks means that plant growth has been exceptionally strong in recent weeks. The cliffs are no exception and some sections of the cliff path network that were cut in early May are already showing considerable growth. That of course is nature doing what comes naturally and it is what makes our island such a beautiful place in which to live and visit.
Environmental Services Unit