Skip to main content

Author: bobbychd

Climate change committee report

Hedges discussed in Climate Change Committee Report

Hedgelink welcomes the proposal by government scientists that extending hedges by 40% is one of the key changes needed to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) advocates increasing hedgerows alongside other methods of carbon capture in its May 2019 report, Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming.

The last hedgerow survey, in 2007, recorded 500,000km of hedgerow in the UK. Extending this by 40% would require the creation of 200,000km of new hedges across rural and urban landscapes – which equates to about half the length of Britain’s road network.

The report notes that this “is not assumed in scenarios that achieve current targets”, so it is excellent that hedgerow benefits have finally been recognised in such an ambitious way.

Hedges sequester carbon both in woody growth above ground and in roots, leaf litter and other soil organic matter at and below ground level. In addition, hedges across slopes capture eroding soil and can increase soil organic carbon for up to 60m uphill. In contrast to some of the other forms of carbon capture proposed in the report, hedges are a low-risk way of capturing carbon and provide multiple benefits.

The CCC report also explains that an increase in hedges “results in benefits to biodiversity through habitat creation […]and can help towards flood alleviation”. Hedges regulate air and water quality through intercepting pollutants, maintain essential diversity, and are already an important cultural landscape feature.

This is not to say that there is no room for innovation. Further research is needed if we are to optimise the creation of 200,000 km of “climate hedges”, so that they are biologically diverse, include hedgerow trees (which will also increase long-term carbon capture capabilities), and are able to provide vital connectivity through an increasingly hostile agricultural and urban environment.

Hedgelink embraces the proposal of 40% increase and welcomes further discussions on the issue. We recommend that everyone with the capacity to promote planting and seeding of hedges through urban and rural landscapes should commence or continue with the urgency that the climate change emergency requires.

Woodwise Feature

“Hedgerows and hedgerows trees” feature in WOOD WISE Summer 2014

Hedgerows are important features in the landscape…

Hedgerows offer food and shelter for wildlife, providing historical and cultural links, and providing landscape-scale connectivity. Although they have been around for centuries, hedges are under threat from removal and poor management. The summer 2014 issue of The Woodland Trust’s Wood Wise looks at the benefits of hedges, management for wildlife and hedgerow planting/improvement schemes.

Wood Wise Summer 2014 PDF

Hedges for Wood Fuel

A new guide Wood Fuel from Hedges, the first for Britain, has been published by the The Devon Hedge Group on how to manage West Country hedges for fuel, including harvesting techniques and likely biomass yields. Both log and chip production are covered. The guide concludes that many farms, probably the majority, could heat at least their farmhouses from their hedges and save money in the process, while others will be able to generate an income through selling the wood to local communities.

The guide can be obtained from the Tamar Valley AONB, Tamar Valley Centre, Cemetery Road, Drakewalls, Gunnislake, Cornwall, PL18 9FE. 20pp, full colour. £5.00 + p&p.

To be used together with the guide, three documents have been designed to allow you to assess the biomass present in hedges on a farm, both individually and across the farm, in terms of weight, volume and energy content, for both woodchip and log production. These consist of Guidance Notes, Recording Form and Assessment Toolkit.

See more at: http://www.devon.gov.uk

Additional Information
Woodfuel from Hedges: A toolkit for communities

Hedgerow Heroes

Meet The Hedgerow Heroes

Plantlife working to restore ancient hedgerows.

This autumn, using age old techniques, conservation charity Plantlife has started work to restore the ancient hedgerows at Ryewater Farm in Dorset, which have been providing wildlife with a vital source of food shelter since medieval times.

Ryewater Farm in Corscombe is an organic farm which is of national importance for its wildflowers and meadows. It’s also home to over a mile of ancient species rich hedgerow and thanks to funding from SITA Trust work has begun to restore this vital habitat to its former glory.

Plantlife’s Joe Costley who will be leading the work says “It’s fantastic news that we have received funding from SITA Trust to carry out this work as the hedgerows at Ryewater Farm are vital. Small fields enclosed by woods and tall, thick hedgerows are part of the distinctive landscape character of this area. Most importantly the hedgerows at Ryewater support a whole host of plants and wildlife, and they need to be maintained or they will develop into a line of trees, which then eventually topple over one by one – and ultimately the hedge is lost. This would be a disaster for wildlife such as bullfinch and song thrush that make use of these hedgerows for feeding and nesting. The birds need thick bushy hedges with plenty of cover, and this restoration work will give them the perfect home for many winters to come. The work will also reduce shading of the ancient meadows that the hedgerows enclose, of benefit to a fabulous array of wild flowers”.

Why hedgerows are worth saving:

  • Hedgerows are nature’s motorways .Small mammals, insects, butterflies, plants and even birds use hedgerows to travel from one region to another. The hedgerow provides a corridor along which to move, shelter from the elements, find safety from predators and a supply of food. So if the hedgerows at Ryewater are lost, nature loses its means of travel, its source of sustenance, and becomes isolated and more vulnerable.
  • The hedgerows at Ryewater Farm contain over 15 tree and shrub species and the adjoining grassland contains a wonderful array of wild flowers including common spotted orchid, betony, meadow thistle and corky-fruited water-dropwort.
  • At this time of year, some of the Ryewater hedgerows are dripping in hawthorn, elder, sloes, spindle, blackberries and even a few crab apples which give you the perfect ingredients for lots of homemade goodies including jam!

Plantlife’s guide to creating a happy hedgerow:

  • The hedgerow restoration will involve “laying” the hedgerow shrubs, which involves cutting and laying down the upright stems – bending them in effect, but leaving enough of the stem uncut to keep the stem alive.
  • You need to carefully judge the angle to which the stem is laid down in-order to maintain healthy growth but also thicken the base of the hedge.
  • There are over 30 different styles of doing this – we will be using the Dorset style where stems of shrubs are laid close to the ground without binding or ‘heathering’.
  • Mature oak trees will be retained along the full length of the hedge. Although the principles of hedge laying are simple, it does involve considerable skill to get right.

Visit the PlantLife website at http://www.plantlife.org.uk/