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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 is part of the ‘Close the Gap’ project, focused on achieving bigger, healthier, better-connected hedgerows. It is funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and is being 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.

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/