The Hedge (& Wall) Importance Test (HIT) was devised by Robin Menneer FRICS MSc in response to the need for a simple, economical, accurate, safe and non-invasive method of surveying and assessing hedges, hedgerows, hedgebanks and walls on a national basis. Its innovative scoring concept provides data compatible with the Hedgerows Regulations criteria and covers every type of hedge or wall while also taking into account regional, county and local distinctiveness.

Robin intended the HIT to be available free online and easy to use by the general public. It was originally hosted by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) and accessed via the Cornish Hedges Library website. When this hosting reached the end of its time the HIT returned home and is here available in the do-it-yourself version, which provides the scoring system to download and print out along with the HIT survey form.

The only part of the HIT not currently available is the automatic print-out giving full description of the hedge or wall, constituting an un-biased assessment on paper of the importance of the hedge or wall which can be used in, for example, cases where protection is desirable during development schemes etc. Meanwhile, the points sheet and results for the hedge, which include the following information explaining the meaning of the HIT mark, can be printed out and presented for these purposes.

Typically hedges score from 4 to 7 marks, indicating a fair to very good hedge which is capable of improvement in landscape and wildlife terms by suitable management. Often a hedge may score a higher individual mark for landscape, wildlife or history than its overall HIT mark. A hedge scoring below 4 marks in all three is less important but will usually be capable of improvement, perhaps in time by at least two overall HIT marks, eg by establishing nearby habitat, taking steps to restore natural flora by correctly managing the hedge with a wildlife-friendly finger-bar type of trimmer, and allowing trees and bushes to grow up along the top.

Any hedge or wall scoring 8 or more marks overall, or 8 or more for any of its three individual marks, is precious and should be accorded a sensitive grade of care and preservation. Given the information entered, a hedge with this mark or above may qualify for protection under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997. The mark 10* (ten star) indicates a highly outstanding hedge which has scored above the number of points required for overall or individual HIT mark 10.

The hedge or wall record, score and HIT mark rely solely on the information entered on the HIT survey form. The plants entered on the HIT form are indicator species. They do not represent a full species count, but indicate the type and health of the hedge and pinpoint those hedges that may be worth a full species survey.

Scoring the hedge for the three individual HIT marks for landscape, wildlife and history gives a valuable indication of the type of care desirable to maintain its particular special value. Please note, the mean average of the three individual marks may not be the same as the overall HIT mark due to rounding differences.

The survey form and points sheets are designed to print out handily using both sides of A4 paper.

Click here to download the HIT survey form.
Click here to download the HIT points sheet.
Click here to download the HIT scoring instructions.
Click here to download individual landscape, wildlife and history points sheets.
Click here to download landscape, wildlife and history HIT scoring instructions.
Click here to download concluding results sheet.

The HIT survey form includes some common plants which are recognisable at all times of the year.

Click here for help with identifying the HIT survey plants.