Hedges and shrubs as species-rich habitats
Hedges, bushes and shrubs are important landscape and structural elements and are among the most species-rich habitats. They represent a retreat and a nesting place for numerous birds and insects but also for small reptiles and mammals. Besides hedges, trees also function as nesting and reproduction places for birds and facilitate guidance for bats searching for food at night. Furthermore, raptors such as common buzzards sit on the branches of the trees to keep an eye on their prey.
Perennial shrubs and isolated trees
More than 70% of the surveyed agricultural businesses in Val Venosta have hedges in their orchards. Perennial shrubs can be found in the orchards of half of the surveyed agricultural businesses, whereas 40% have standard trees/isolated trees.
Nest boxes for insects and birds
Many useful songbirds are cavity-nesting birds. Appropriate nest boxes for birds constitute an ideal place for rearing the brood. Almost two thirds of the surveyed agricultural businesses in Val Venosta have built nest boxes and nesting aides so far with an average of 4 nest boxes per ha in Val Venosta’s orchards. Flying insects can find suitable nesting aids in so-called insect hotels where wild bees such as mason bees can protect their brood and provide for it. This is a guarantee that they will permanently settle in the orchard and thus pollinate the apple flowers and other plants. Nearly half of the surveyed agricultural businesses already offer such insect hotels.
Walls and stones as retreats
Dry stone walls and piles of stones are a perfect refuge for useful small mammals such as hedgehogs or weasels, but also reptiles and amphibians depend on these cavities between the stones for surviving. The traditional dry stone walls are an important element of South Tyrol’s cultural landscape and have to be maintained manually with great effort. They offer an ideal habitat for a variety of plants and animals.
Making good use of stones
One in four surveyed agricultural businesses owns terraced orchards, whereas clearance cairns and stone cages can be found in the orchards of one third of Val Venosta’s agricultural businesses. These mostly smaller structural elements are often built during the creation of new orchards when stones are picked up and collected on piles or in cages and thus have another benefit as well.
HomeOrchard habitat questionnaire