Agroforestry Systems

, 78:13 | Cite as

The effect of hedgerow loss on microclimate in the Mediterranean region: an investigation in Central Spain

  • Iván A. SánchezEmail author
  • Luis Lassaletta
  • Duncan McCollin
  • Robert G. H. Bunce


In Central Spain hedgerows are an important component of the landscape although many have been lost due to landscape planning and reallotment programmes. Loss of hedgerows can produce changes in environmental conditions that can be especially critical in summer, corresponding with the dry period in Mediterranean ecosystems. In order to show the effects of hedgerow removal on summer Mediterranean environmental conditions in rural landscapes, this paper describes a comparison of some key environmental conditions between areas where hedgerows are still present, compared to areas where they have been removed. Through a two-way ANOVA, it was found that temperatures in the hedgerows were significantly different from those in the fields, whilst air temperatures beneath the hedgerows were lower, and steadier, than those of surrounding areas. When temperatures of the fields were compared to those sites where hedgerows had been removed, significant differences in temperatures were detected belowground and sometimes at soil surface level but not at higher levels. The levels of soil water content and organic carbon were higher where hedgerows were still in place. These differences indicate potentially negative environmental impacts due to hedgerow removal. The implications of hedgerow conservation for environmental protection and for cropland productivity are discussed.


Mediterranean hedgerows Hedgerow removal Summer temperature Soil water content Soil carbon Ecological stability 



We thank Antonio Pou and the late Ramón Margalef for the early ideas on the project. We are also indebted to Maria Sario, Fernando Guzman and Luis de Miguel for giving us permission to work in their fields and for the valuable information related to land use in the study zones. We thank Anja Birkeland for assistance in the preparation of the manuscript and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. David Angeler also helped with ideas related to the statistical analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iván A. Sánchez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luis Lassaletta
    • 2
  • Duncan McCollin
    • 3
  • Robert G. H. Bunce
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias AmbientalesUniversidad de Castilla-La ManchaToledoSpain
  2. 2.Departamento Interuniversitario de EcologíaUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Landscape and Biodiversity Research GroupThe University of NorthamptonNorthamptonUK
  4. 4.Alterra, Wageningen URWageningenThe Netherlands

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