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It’s time for government to stand up for hedgerows

In July 2021 Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) 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.