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UKCEH Creates Most Comprehensive Map of England’s Hedgerows to Date

Here’s what the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have to say:

“NEW! We’ve created the most comprehensive map of England’s hedgerows to date!

💡 390,000km of hedgerow on field boundaries

📏 Depicts hedgerow length and height (for the first time!)

🔎 Reveals areas with highest and lowest hedgerow densities  

Hedgerows have been a part of our rural landscape since the Bronze Age, marking boundaries and keeping in livestock. But they also support biodiversity and can capture and store large amounts of carbon as well providing other services including preventing soil loss.  

📉 However half of Britain’s hedgerows were lost between the 1940s and 1990s. Our map will aid targeted hedgerow planting and restoration efforts, linking up habitats and improving the hedgerow network.  

🔍 The map reveals that Cornwall has the highest hedgerow density in England. The lowest densities, excluding major urban areas, are in Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire  

UKCEH scientists took high-resolution LIDAR data collected by the Environment Agency and processed these through the JASMIN super-computer to create this ground breaking new map. Its development was funded by UK Research and Innovation’s AgZero+ programme.”

To read more check out the UKCEH’s press release here.

Celebrating 50 Years of National Tree Week

National Tree Week (25 November – 3 December) is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration. Each year, the country’s conservation sector, volunteer groups and tree-lovers come together to plant thousands of trees to mark the start of the tree and hedge planting season.

This year’s National Tree Week is extra special as it marks the 50th anniversary of the famous ‘Plant a Tree in 73’ campaign – from which National Tree Week was born!

The Tree Council has curated a rich array of activities, engaging events, and enlightening Tree Talks waiting for your participation. For a glimpse into the offerings, pay a visit to their website.

Are you gearing up to contribute by planting a new hedge for this celebration? That’s fantastic news! Before you grab your whips and tools, make sure to explore the Hedge Hub for invaluable expert insights and guidance on planting and nurturing your new hedge.

Manage hedgerows? Your thoughts matter.

Do you manage hedgerows or work with those who do? If so, we want to hear from you! 

Your insights will help us shape materials that’ll enhance hedgerow management by farmers, landowners and land managers like you. We want to make sure the positive hedge message reaches the right people in the right format.

Share your expertise in our short survey.

It’ll only take 5-10 minutes of your time, and its live until November 30, 2023. The survey is being conducted by The Tree Council and partners, as part of the Life on the Hedge programme.

National Hedgelaying Championship – Saturday 28 October

Come and see a hundred of the best hedgelayers from around the country display their skills in the highest level of competition!

Hedgelaying differs around the country in the way that it is done and the National Championship has many of the different styles on show. It is a unique opportunity to see all these regional variations in one place and talk to experts in all of them.

9am to 5pm (Hedgelaying competition 9am to 2pm). Admission costs £5 per car.

Stanford Hall, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 6DH

For further information please visit the National Hedgelaying Society website.

 

Surrey Hedgerow Festival – Saturday 21 October

Support local artists and businesses with a great day of music, craft and conservation when Surrey Wildlife Trust and West Horsley Place host the UK’s very first hedgerow-themed music and arts festival!

Designed as a celebration of the rich cultural and natural history of these ‘forgotten heroes’ of our landscape, Surrey Hedgerow Festival will feature:

  • Folk, jazz and rock music from local performers
  • Educational talks, guided nature walks and professional storytelling
  • Food and refreshments from a variety of local vendors
  • Art displays
  • Roaming performances from Guildford Shakespeare

For more information please click here.

The Hedgerow Heritage Project

The festival is the pinnacle event of the Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Hedgerow Heritage project, a four-year initiative funded and supported by the Heritage Lottery which seeks to engage a new generation in conservation and to promote and preserve the skills we need to keep our hedgerows healthy.

Seed Gathering Season Begins

Grow the Hedges of the Future

As the nights draw in it’s tempting to hunker inside – but this is the best time of year to explore your local woods or nearest park, and gather the seeds, nuts and fruits that will grow to become the next generation of life-giving trees, shrubs and hedgerows.

The Autumn Equinox is the official start of The Tree Council’s Seed Gathering Season. Over the next month, we’ll be running online masterclasses and sharing practical information around how to identity trees and collect seeds; process and prepare them for growing, and then sow and plant them out.

Seed gathering is fun, free and easy. Wherever you live, whatever your age, you can get involved. You don’t need to be a hedge expert or have any special equipment – just a love of trees and nature and lots of enthusiasm!

Visit The Tree Council website for more information.

The Hedgelife Help Out results are in!

With over 2,100 submissions, CPRE’s Hedgelife Help Out project (in collaboration with The Tree Council) proved to be a huge success. What’s more, a vast majority found it great for wellbeing and felt more connected to nature.

CPRE were delighted with the enthusiasm that so many people showed in their inaugural ‘Hedgelife Help Out’ project during May, as part of the wider Big Help Out initiative.

The project took the form of a straightforward ‘survey’ and asked people to go out and spend time near a hedgerow, reporting back what they saw, the wildlife they found, and how the experience made them feel.

The aim was to create an accessible citizen science project that not only gave insight into the state of hedgerows across the country, but also helped people connect with nature. You can view the top-line results here.

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.

Hedgerow Detectives: New resource for primary schools

Hedgerow Detective KS1 and KS2 lesson plans

CPRE, the countryside charity, has developed some fantastic resources to help primary schools students learn about hedgerows.

CPRE has created ‘Hedgerow detective’ lesson plans for Key Stage 1 and 2 children. During these lessons, they will learn about why hedgerows are important and how they help the environment. Pupils will also learn about the animals and plants that live in hedgerows. CPRE has developed teachers’ notes for both key stages, as well as fun worksheets for the children to complete. CPRE has developed these lesson plans in collaboration with Countryside Classroom.

How do these lesson plans relate to the curriculum?

The hedgerow resources link to a wide range of subjects. For example:

  • Science: looking at naming different plants, investigating their structure and needs to grow as well as touching on habitats and food chains/ webs.
  • History: by investigating how the local landscape has changed over time.
  • Geography: these lesson plans will enable your students to compare rural and urban landscapes – this activity is a fun way of introducing children to the rural aspect.
  • Design technology: the lesson plans will also help your students to design and build fencing or animal housing.
  • Maths: in the Key Stage 2 lesson plans, your students will gather and handle data and make calculations.
  • Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE): is covered in many ways by the Hedgerow Detective lesson plans, by encouraging children to care for animals and the environment

Visit the CPRE website for further information.

The Tree Council announces funding for community hedge planting

The Tree Council is now accepting applications for the Branching Out Community Fund, for projects taking place during the winter 2022 / 2023 hedge planting season!

The grant provides funding of between £200 and £2000 to support hedgerow, tree and orchard planting projects run by schools, community groups, parish councils and Tree Warden Networks.

Projects must have strong community involvement and should enhance local wildlife and biodiversity.

Applications will be open until Sunday 4 December.

Head to The Tree Council website to find out more and apply: Our grants – The Tree Council

 

CPRE: It’s time for government to stand up for hedgerows

In July 2021 CPRE, the countryside charity, launched a national campaign championing the humble hedgerow. Stuart Neaverson, Campaigns Officer at CPRE, tells us more.

Hedgerows are the vital stitching in the patchwork of our countryside. Not only are they beautiful, with shifting seasonal colours, but they can also be vital allies in tackling climate change. Our hedgerows capture carbon in their roots and branches, help reduce the risk of flooding and provide shelter to well over a hundred of the UK’s most vulnerable species.

But our hedgerows are at risk. Since the Second World War, we’ve lost around half of our hedgerows. At CPRE, we want to see them make a comeback. The government loves talking about tree planting and peatland restoration – which are obviously critical too – but it seems to have forgotten one of nature’s superheroes – the humble hedgerow. We’re campaigning for government to commit to a target for planting and restoring thousands of miles of hedgerows across the country.

Specifically, we want to see them back the Climate Change Committee’s call for a 40% increase in the extent of hedgerows by 2050 to help tackle the climate emergency. In short, #40by50.

It’s a policy that would pay for itself. Our recent research report, Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy, found that for every £1 invested in hedgerows, nearly £4 can be returned to the wider economy, such as through jobs to plant and restore hedgerows and environmental benefits including boosting biodiversity and offsetting carbon emissions.

But to restore our hedgerow network, and revitalise our countryside and hedgerows in towns and cities too, we need your support. We need to make sure our government gets the message and backs a hedgerow #40by50 target in policy and legislation, just like it has for trees, and commit to planting and restoring thousands of miles of hedges all across the country. You can make your voice heard by signing our petition here and helping to make sure we restore the unsung hero of our countryside.

‘Healthy Hedgerows’ app launched to help farmers, hedgerows and wildlife

People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) have launched a brand-new ‘Healthy Hedgerows’ app, aimed at farmers and land managers that want to make – or adjust – their hedgerow management plans to grow the healthiest of hedges. 

Healthy Hedgerows offers free rapid assessments to help make understanding the hedgerow lifecycle easy. With just six easy questions, it’s quick and simple to use, giving instant management advice for each hedge surveyed.

Designed for farmers, landowners and land managers, this free app enables users to find out where hedges are within their natural lifecycle and offers instant feedback on how they can be best managed to ensure their continued health.

Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Project Officer at PTES, explains: “The quality and structure of hedgerows will deteriorate if they’re managed in the same way for long periods of time, and over time they will eventually be lost. Managing hedgerows according to their lifecycle is the only way to keep them healthy in the long term,  which may include more sensitive trimming, periods of non-intervention and, in time, rejuvenation.”

“Whatever condition a hedge is in, it can be brought back to good health. Our new app pinpoints where it is in its lifecycle and the best management options to adopt to get the most benefit for the farm and its precious wildlife.”

To download the app for free, visit the Apple Store or Google Play and search for Healthy Hedgerows. For those who can’t download the app, more information is available online: hedgerowsurvey.ptes.org/healthy-hedgerows-survey.

The app was part of the Close the Gap project, focused on achieving bigger, healthier, better-connected hedgerows. It was funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and was delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

The first ever National Hedgerow Week!

The inaugural National Hedgerow Week (29 May to 6 June 2021), led by The Tree Council and partners, sparked a UK-wide conversation about (and with!) these quietly remarkable features of our urban and rural landscapes. 

People, communities and businesses got involved in National Hedgerow Week in lots of different ways:  

  • They signed up to receive the Talk to the Hedge guide to learn how to chat with their local hedgerow.
  • Over 1,000 people and counting enjoyed a series of free HedgeTalks, which invited a diverse cast of hedge enthusiasts to discuss the art, science and cultural value of hedgerows. You can watch the HedgeTalk recordings in your own time on the National Hedgerow Week website
  • Sharing photos of themselves out enjoying their local hedges using #TalkToTheHedge, helping to spark a hedgy conversation online that reached a potential 3 million timelines.  

Thank you to BBC Gardener’s Question Time, the Times, My Green Pod and many more for helping to spread the word about the campaign, and special thanks to the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for supporting this initiative.  

Next year’s National Hedgerow Week will take place September 2022. 

For more information visit the National Hedgerow Week website. 

Close the Gap hedgerows project

Last year, The Tree Council and partners (including Hedgelink) were delighted to receive a grant of £1.8 million from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for an exciting new Close the Gap hedgerow project.

The 18-month project, now in full swing, is helping to shape the future of England’s hedgerows in four ways: through hedgerow planting and ‘gapping up’; by gathering and sharing knowledge to improve hedgerow management; by ensuring good local supplies of future hedgerow trees through local seed nurseries; and by engaging the public with England’s important hedgerow heritage.

Activities include:

  • Establishing and restoring 53km of urban and rural hedgerows with partners, community groups and farmers.
  • Encouraging surveying of hedgerows, via a new ‘Healthy Hedges’ app.
  • Updating the Hedgelink website to include an online knowledge hub and shared training materials on hedgerow surveying, planting and management.
  • Supporting 10 new horticulture trainees.
  • New community seed nurseries nationwide to create biosecure future tree supplies.
  • Raising awareness of the value of hedgerows through a new National Hedgerow Week.

Sara Lom, CEO at The Tree Council, said: “The Committee on Climate Change called for 200,000km of new hedgerows to help achieve net zero carbon – but hedges are often forgotten in conversations about a greener future. Close the Gap will boost the immense potential of our hedgerows – for biodiversity, carbon-capture, conserving our natural cultural heritage and more. We want everyone to understand and value their local hedgerows and for more young people to consider the exciting land-based careers they offer. We’re grateful to National Lottery Heritage Fund for funding this partnership of leading organisations to improve the future of UK hedgerows.”

The project partners include The Tree Council, Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Moor Trees, the University of Reading, The Royal Parks Guild and Hedgelink. The project is funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

For more information visit The Tree Council website or email hedgerows@treecouncil.org.uk.

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.