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Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy

CPRE and ORC report

Abstract

The agricultural landscape makes up 73% of the UK’s land mass and represents a long and interwoven history between labour and land. Two-thirds of England has had a continuously hedged landscape for 600 years or more.1 Some hedgerow systems date back to prehistoric times and most were well established by the Anglo Saxon period.2 So much of our relationship with the land in the UK has evolved alongside the creation and maintenance of hedgerows — from how we manage trees, burn fuel, build homes, and stock animals, to how we mark parish boundaries, manage waterways and map pathways and roads.3 Hedgerows are also fundamental to our efforts to mitigate UK land degradation and climate change. Since 1945, the UK’s hedgerow network has shrunk by about 50%, with the annual net loss of hedgerows reaching 18,000km in the early 1990s.4 This is because of direct removal of hedgerows, resulting from perverse policy recommendations and subsidies, as well as through undermanagement, neglect and the effects of development. In addition, dominant hedge management practices seek to minimise workload and costs, often at the expense of hedgerows’ value to wildlife and to wider society.

Author(s): CPRE and ORC

Journal: CPRE and ORC report

Year: 2021

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