In Bretagne, 80% of drinking water comes from surface water pumping, which makes this resource fragile and sensitive to diffuse or point pollution. Several water intake points were closed in the mid-1990s due to significant water quality degradation. Due to the positive influence that hedgerow can have on the quality of surface water, policies for the preservation and restoration of hedgerow have emerged in BrIttany.
Study of a pilot sub-basin
In the 2000s, the Comité du Bassin Versant du Léguer (CBVL) conducted a study of the Kervulu watershed (pilot basin) to assess the effect of hedgerow restoration and changes in practices on water quality.
Physico-chemical and chemical monitoring
A water quality monitoring network on pesticide parameters has been implemented since 2007, in addition to the existing monitoring network (WFD network).
The Leguer hedgerow project, led by INRA (UMR BAGAP), aims to evaluate the role of the hedge as a shelter for auxiliary fauna, both through the in situ assessment of hedge biodiversity at the hedge and farm levels, and through the analysis of the ecological connectivity of the landscape and the establishment of ecological networks in planning documents.
Design & implementations
Lessons, risks, implications...
The emergence of the wood sector (grove wood, production of wood chips to supply boilers) has been a real opportunity for farmers to find an economic interest. The gradual structuring of an energy wood sector allowing the valorization of wood from the maintenance of hedges in the form of logs or wood chips has helped convince the territory actors commit themselves on such a scale. Finally, the project benefited from the regional dynamics linked to the Breizh Bocage scheme.
Policy, general governance and design targets
The main objective of the project was to improve water quality and control erosion. Limiting runoff allows water to stay longer before reaching the watercourses, giving time to natural processes to occur to purify the water by soil microorganisms or light.
Secondly, the restoration of hedged land is of interest for biomass supply, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, renewable wood production, for the wind-breaking role of hedges, livestock protection and landscape restoration.
Since the 2000s, an improvement has been observed on the nitrate parameter, while it was increasing in the 1990s.
In addition, farmers report that they have noticed the disappearance of mud flows on the lower part of their fields following the creation of hedges that break the slope.