Skip to main content

Author: dom

National Hedgerow Week 2023

From May 8 – 14, it’s National Hedgerow Week 2023 (NHW), brought to you by The Tree Council and partners, and this year the focus is ‘healthy hedgerows’ – those big, bursting, bastions of biodiversity that shape our countryside and soften our urban spaces.

The government’s newly released Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP) seeks to create or restore 30,000 miles of new hedgerows by 2037, rising to 45,000 by 2050. And while The Tree Council welcomes these targets and wants everyone to appreciate and enjoy the benefits UK hedgerows bring, we also want the nation to help collect hedgerow data for analysis into the health of our hedgerows nationwide, information that hasn’t been updated since the 2007 Countryside Survey.

This year, NHW coincides with National Plant Health Week.

Understanding the current condition, age and distribution of our hedgerows is urgent, and absolutely vital for policymaking, so that organisations championing hedgerows like The Tree Council – and our Hedgelink partners – know where to prioritise resources and effort.

The most recent 2007 Countryside Survey found that less than half (48%) of hedgerows were in good condition, while the previous survey in 1998 identified a whopping 40% decrease in hedgerow trees between one and four years old, with a general 3% decrease in hedgerow tree numbers since 1990.

Help your hedge be healthy!

We’ve worked with CPRE to develop Hedgelife Help Out, your simple guide to identifying a healthy hedgerow.

Once you know what you are looking for, try exploring your area to determine the condition of the precious natural lifelines you discover. Then feed that important information into the People’s Trust for Endangered Species’ (PTES) Great British Hedgerow Survey – a nationwide hedgerow health-check.

If you come across any unusual pests or diseases on your hedge, please report them to Forest Research’s Tree Alert.

And if you find that perfect hedge, you could even submit it to Chris Packham’s Hedgerow of the Year competition – launched during NHW 2022.

This NHW, we’ve got Springwatch’s Lucy Lapwing and PTES’ dormouse expert, Ian White delivering a free, online Hedge Talk detailing all the benefits happy hedgerows bring across urban and rural locations, for wildlife and humans.

We are also hosting a free, online Hedge Talk with the organisation behind all previous Countryside Surveys, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), to discover the latest on hedgerow health across the UK, and plans for future data collection and analysis.

And we’ve got actor and television presenter – turned Wild Farmer and baking pioneer – George Lamb, delivering a free, online Hedge Talk into the Future of Food, alongside chef, Kate Forrester.

The Tree Council CEO, Sara Lom said: “Hedgerows are a magnificent part of our national heritage, some of them as old as Britain’s ancient palaces and castles. They provide homes for wildlife and storage for carbon, bring joyful blossom in springtime and fruit for foragers in the autumn.

“This year, we want the nation to help gather data on their condition. Only by discovering the state of our hedgerows and what keeps them healthy, can we work together to protect them for the future.”

National Hedgerow Week 2023, brought to you by The Tree Council and partners, runs from May 8 – May 14. All Hedge Talks are free but booking is essential. To reserve your place, and find lots more hedgerow information and resources, please visit www.nationalhedgerowweek.org.uk

There’s more on The Tree Council’s substack channel, Tree Talk: Our landscapes could be transformed by approaching gap in hedgerow tree succession

 

PTES launch the first systematic hazel dormouse survey!

Hazel dormice are a rare, and declining species in Britain. Until now, there has been no systematic survey of hazel dormice in Britain. The National Dormouse Footprint Tunnel Survey is based on using footprint tunnels to detect to the presence of dormice in hedgerows. The condition of the hedgerow will be assessed using the Great British Hedgerow Survey.

A new method using footprint tunnels has recently been developed where associated probability scores to detect dormice using varying levels of survey effort have been calculated. These probability scores are habitat-dependent. It is both easier to identify a hedgerow, rather than some other habitats and easier to detect dormice using them. The National Dormouse Footprint Tunnel Survey will be based on a search for dormice in hedgerows rather than any other habitat. Footprint tunnels are relatively easy to use and can be used by people who do not have a dormouse license as the likelihood of encountering the animals in a tunnel is rare.

The Great British Hedgerow survey is the standard hedge survey in Britain and will give information on hedge conditions and provide management advice. A dormouse survey undertaken in conjunction with a hedge survey will give an indication of dormouse occupancy of hedge type or dormouse absence from hedge type. People’s Trust for Endangered Species may be able to supply kits to survey for dormice both within and at the edge of their current range. It is hoped that these kits will continue to be used in future years to survey different hedgerows for dormice.

 

Ian White, Dormouse Officer for Peoples Trust for Endangered Species

 

Help save our Hedgerows this National Hedgerow Week and sign the #40by50 petition

CPRE, the countryside charity, is campaigning to plant and restore hedgerow networks up and down the country as part of its #40by50 campaign.

Hedgerows are a fundamental part our history, and the unsung heroes of our countryside.  However, since the Second World War, we’ve lost around half of them, and not all of the hedgerows that remain are managed for the benefit of wildlife and our planet.

These life-giving hedgerow networks provide food for masses of wildlife. Their berries feed birds and mammals; their flowers are a source of nectar for pollinators, and their leaves are the food plant for loads of insects and grubs. They’re also rich habitats in themselves, and help give wildlife safe passage.

Hedgerows are among our best natural defences against climate change, too. They capture and store large quantities of carbon; their roots stabilise and improve soils and they protect us from weather extremes. In towns and cities, hedgerows provide useful water drainage, clean the air and shelter urban wildlife.

This is why CPRE’s petition is telling the government: take action for hedgerows. The Climate Change Committee has recommended that we increase the extent of our hedgerows by 40% by 2050, to help achieve net zero, and that’s exactly what our petition is calling for.

The case for hedgerows isn’t just about our environment. Investing in them will help our economy too. Our recent report found that for every £1 invested in hedgerows, nearly £4 can be returned to the wider economy.

Thankfully, people up and down the country are doing their bit. CPRE local groups have been mobilising wonderful volunteers who have been planting and restoring hedgerows as part of our Hedgerow Heroes initiative, with more to be planted this winter. We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact these projects have on communities, enhancing local landscapes and creating better habitats for biodiversity.

At a time when our government threatens habitats across the UK in the name of growth, it’s never been a better time to make it clear that we need to replenish our natural world, not destroy it.

There’s still time to sign our petition, which will be handed it to Defra on 17 October. We want to make sure the government backs the #40by50 campaign and gives hedgerows the protection they need – for countryside, wildlife and our planet.

 

Photo credit: CPRE, the countryside charity.