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Fences Do Not Make Good Neighbours, Natural Design Does!

    The idea that we need to enclose our entire property from our neighbours is an old idea. But is it always our best choice? I would argue that fences should only be used around gardens, vegetable patches, or to protect livestock paddocks. Any other “fence” should be natural. The amount of wood used in the creation of fencing that generally has a very short lifespan is unbelievable.

    There are no fences in nature. In fact, the free movement of wildlife is what helps keep ecosystems vibrant. The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the USA forced the deer to higher ground and thus allowed the plant life to flourish and promote the return of natural watercourses and other wildlife and insects that are vital to forests. Similarly, the return of wandering herds (like elephants and gazelles) to grasslands has solved the problems created by humans. In Africa it was done by massing domesticated livestock into herds and allowing for predation; rather than treating the predators as a problem. All this and no fences.

    While civilization has necessitated the need for some closed off areas, running hundreds of thousands of miles of fencing is not the best we can do. What are the alternatives? Think food or fragrance; for instance, blueberry bushes create wonderful barriers and better privacy than your average fence and other fruiting plants like blackberries and raspberries provide spikey walls that most creatures prefer to avoid.  Non-fruiting hedgerows of lilacs provide privacy and surround you with amazing smelling blooms. Trees of every description can provide shade, wind protection and these natural barriers also protect you against flood and topsoil erosion and other problems as well as providing privacy and low maintenance.

    Creating smaller enclosed spaces like courtyards for humans and safe pens for our animals to occupy when needed, is far less expensive and infinitely more beneficial to the animals, the land and ourselves.
    So before you build that forest clearing fence, consider these natural alternatives and perhaps enjoy the “fruits” of your labours!