Observations through the eyes of a Swede (a human – not the tasty turnip-looking vegetable!), by Emelie Persson

By July 12, 2020May 6th, 2021Habitat, Sustainability

It is my first time visiting England, we have only just about taken an exit off the M1 and I immediately find myself fascinated by flying forward on a beautiful winding country road accompanied by dense, lush green hedgerows on either side. I have never seen anything like it before and England is even prettier than I could have ever imagined!

The hedgerows blend in so well with the landscape and whilst driving down a hill the gorgeous views and the rolling green landscape is almost undisturbed from the roads and traffic hidden behind the greenery.

I remember thinking, what a great natural habitat for wildlife the hedgerows must be. The hedgerows seems have an abundant variety of plant species and are even carrying fruits and berries at places. They are perfect wildlife corridors, creating a space for insects to spend the winter getting ready to start their job as natural pest control for the adjoining cultivated fields as soon as the spring starts.

I spot a gap in the hedgerow and then it hits me – how are we supposed to see if any deer or wild game is hiding in the hedgerow and how will we be prepared to stop if it decides to jump out? This can now happen any second! In Sweden we are used to most high speed roads being protected by tall see through metal fences on either side of the road. Especially at dawn, the risk of a deer or even a moose running out in the road is pretty big and it can cause some really scary accidents at times.

I remind myself of being in a foreign country and that maybe deers do not jump out on the roads here as often, fingers crossed… I try to focus on enjoying the ride again.

Looking closer at the hedgerows I started noticing little green signs with yellow writing on the side of the roads. We are driving too fast for me to read the writing on the first few but finally – “Public Footpath”. Wow, a footpath for everyone! That is fantastic. The footpaths seems to be going straight across cultivated fields, what a fantastic initiative.

The footpaths makes me think of a part of the swedish constitution called “Allemansrätten”, directly translated to “everyman’s’ right” and is maybe better described as the Right of Public Access. In Sweden everyone has the freedom to roam freely and to access land regardless of ownership. The land belongs to everybody and it is everybody’s responsibility to keep it in order. There is no such crime as trespassing as long as you keep a sensible distance to houses, take your litter with you and “leave the land as it was found”. Allemansrätten makes it really easy to camp, hike, ski, go swimming and to pick mushrooms and berries.

The idea of exploring the English countryside on the public footpaths makes me excited – I think I am going to like it here!

Emelie Persson