Podcast: Hedge Laying. Weaving our way to a climate robust landscape?

In two brand-new podcast episodes of the Water & Land Podcast by the Centre for Agricultural History (CAG) and the Centre for Intangible Heritage Netherlands (KIEN), experts, researchers, and heritage practitioners discuss hedge laying and weaving.

Podcast Heggen 2024

Did you know that laid and woven hedges are very interesting for nature and climate? Hedges, for example, provide a home for insects and birds. In agriculture, hedges have numerous benefits: they break the wind along fields, reduce soil erosion and dehydration, limit runoff, and provide better natural drainage. In two brand-new podcast episodes of the Water & Land Podcast by the Centre for Agricultural History (CAG) and the Centre for Intangible Heritage Netherlands (KIEN), experts, researchers, and heritage practitioners discuss hedge laying and weaving. How can this ancient heritage practice contribute to a more climate-resilient and comfortable landscape today?

Hedge Laying: Ancient and Diverse

Weaving is not only a way to maintain hedges but also to densify and rejuvenate them, making them a natural shelter for insects and animals. In this episode, we focus on the art of weaving. Because hedge laying is not only very useful for the environment, it is also craftsmanship.

Speaking in this episode are Dirk Cuvelier, Arnout Zwaenepoel, and Lex Roeleveld, pioneers of heritage practice in Flanders and the Netherlands. The three hedge experts discuss various styles and techniques of hedge laying and how they have evolved over time. Cuvelier, Zwaenepoel, and Roeleveld also discuss the revival of hedge laying – a revival that the three experts can only applaud.

Listen to the podcast episode 'Hedge Laying: Ancient and Diverse' here (in Dutch) 

(Woven) Hedges: Biodiversity Advantage

For centuries, hedges have been used as natural barriers. Hedges, whether woven or not, play a crucial role in promoting biodiversity. Hedges provide protection against floods and erosion, absorb CO2, and create a homely (or 'comfortable') feeling in the landscape. In short, hedges provide numerous ecosystem services. However, for various reasons, hedges are increasingly disappearing from our landscape. Biogeographer Kenneth F. Rijsdijk (Universiteit van Amsterdam) and Jaap Dirkmaat (director of the Vereniging Nederlands Cultuurlandschap) are advocates for a large-scale reintroduction of hedges in the Netherlands and Flanders.

Our Jet Bakels spoke with Rijsdijk and Dirkmaat. She discusses with Rijsdijk, among other things, what exactly those 'ecosystem services' of the hedge are – services that Rijsdijk has described in detail in his recently published book Heg. With Dirkmaat, Bakels discusses, among other things, what is needed to make such a large-scale reintroduction of hedges possible. In short, ideal listening material for anyone with a big heart for sustainability, heritage, and also striving for a more climate robust landscape.

Listen to the podcast episode '(Woven) Hedges: Biodiversity Advantage' here


Heggenvlechters aan het werk. Foto door: Peter Guedens

About the podcastseries Water & Land

The Water & Land podcast series stems from a similarly named, multi-year, and international collaboration project between CAG and KIEN. In three project years, Water & Land approaches three contemporary themes closely connected to each other: water management, biodiversity conservation, and soil fertility.

Without pretending that intangible heritage provides the solution, old techniques and practices can provide enriching insights. We collaborate with various heritage communities in Flanders and the Netherlands who contribute to a sustainable future with their inspiring example practices. We exchange experience and expertise and thereby provide new solutions.

The results of this project are shared in lectures, publications, and podcast episodes. Curious about the other podcast episodes? Then visit the Water & Land website. There you will find the earlier podcast episodes we made about, among other things, water mills, water mill landscapes, and grassland irrigation. Or visit the SoundCloud page of CAG, where you can listen to all episodes at once.

Visit the Water & Land website (in Dutch) 

Visit the CAG SoundCloud page (all podcast episodes are in Dutch)

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