The pine lines are the most familiar and iconic feature of the Brecks landscape. Comprising of long straight lines of contorted Scots and Corsican pines, they march across the landscape, silhouetted against the sky. Research by Prof Tom Williamson of UEA during the course of the project discovered that they were originally planted as hedges. The young, clipped pines provided a good windbreak for the crops in adjacent fields and survived well in the poor Brecks soils. Most of the lines were established between 1815 and 1825 and became difficult to manage. They subsequently grew into twisted mature trees which had been manipulated at a young age, giving this unique Brecks feature.
Over the course of the project, 4.65km of new pine line (exceeding target of 2km) have been created a further 8.95km of existing pine line have been restored (exceeding target of 8km). 23 pine lines have been covered with management plans and intensive engagement with landowners as to the heritage importance of these features has provided a sense of ownership of these rare features. Landowners and managers have been given advice on how to manage pine lines, plant and prune the young trees so that as the older trees come to the end of their natural life cycle, they are replaced by trees that have been managed in the same way, preserving this distinct landscape feature.
Six planting days have been run with local school pupils to engage the younger generation with the history of the Brecks and the importance of preserving these trees for the future. An online recording facility has been set up for volunteers to monitor pine lines and report on their health and status, and two specialist volunteers carried out an intensive ground beetle survey of pine lines, revealing 3 new locations for one of the rarest invertebrates in the Brecks, Harpalus froelichi or the Brush-thighed seed eater as it is more commonly known. This proves that pine lines provide an important refuge for insects and in turn farmland birds who predate upon them
Help survey pinelines with our dedicated website: http://www.breakingnewground.org.uk/news/how-to-survey-a-pine-line/
Ed Goodall, Project Officer