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Plan To Save UK Hedges Kicks Off

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Plan To Save UK Hedges Kicks Off

News

The UK's hedges are under threat. A £500k grant from Trees Call to Action Fund is here to help.

Francesca Brooking

Wed 22 Jun 2022

Let’s talk hedges. The Tree Council’s new ‘Talk to the Hedge’ programme has been awarded a £500k grant from Trees Call to Action Fund.

The £6million grant, led by DEFRA, the Forestry Commission and The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports projects which protect trees, boost forestry skills and connect communities with nature.

An often overlooked part of the UK countryside, hedgerows play a vital role in biodiversity.

The grant will help raise public awareness of the value that hedges bring and support smaller conservation charities working to restore them.

A cyclist on a road with hedges on either side

Hedgerows are an often undervalued feature of the countryside

Why are hedges important?

Hedges are a typical feature of the UK countryside. However, they’re in decline.

Since the Second World War, as much as 50% of hedgerows have been destroyed to make way for industrial farming.

Now, there are just over 450,000km of hedgerows left in the UK and conservationists are pushing for them to be restored and protected.

Hedges are more than field dividers. They’re corridors of biodiversity that are teeming with different plants and wildlife.

In fact, 130 of the wildlife species listed as a priority under the government’s Biodiversity Action Plan thrive among the hedges.

This includes the European Hedgehog which is in decline.

Hedges also improve soil health on farmland by reducing run-offs and flooding.

They help anchor fertile soil in place and prevent it from washing or eroding away during heavy rainfall or droughts.

Healthier soils store more carbon too. Unhealthy soils that erode away become a source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Hedges, much like trees and other vegetation, help lock carbon in place and combat climate change.

A countryside hedge next to a mowed lawn
“Hedgerows are carbon-guzzling, wildlife-sheltering wonders”

What is the Talk to the Hedge programme?

The Tree Council’s 'Talk to the Hedge' programme, which kicked off in June 2022, is a project that aims to protect and promote the UK’s hedgerows.

It’s built on last year’s Close the Gap programme which has already achieved restoring 26km of old hedges, planting 53km of new hedges and strengthening important wildlife corridors.

The new Trees Call to Action Fund will secure the 'Talk to the Hedge' programme up to March 2025.

Throughout the next two and a half years, The Tree Council and its programme partners will run a schedule of events and initiatives, including:

  • National Hedgerow Week from 17 – 25 September 2022

  • Establishing 18 new school and community group tree nurseries

  • Running a series of hedge laying courses

  • Inspiring greenspace careers for young people on 28 September 2022

  • Supporting smaller charities National Hedgelaying Society and Another Way, led by 19-year-old Cumbrian conservationist Amy Bray

  • Setting up the Good Hedge Guide for better hedge management in 2023

Learn more about threatened UK habitats: The Writers Shining A Light On The Biodiversity Crisis
a hedge with lush green trees above it

50% of hedgerows have been destroyed since World War II

Who is The Tree Council?

The Tree Council is a national charity which works to bring people and organisations together for trees and the future of the planet.

It provides knowledge and tools to help inspire positive change at a national and local level.

Sara Lom, CEO of The Tree Council says: “We’re delighted that our work supporting hedgerows will continue to blossom for the next three years.

“It’s more important than ever that we take action to ensure that our hedgerows thrive and that we nurture the next generation of hedgerow guardians.

“There’s a whole world of exciting nature-based careers that people don’t know about - we hope to inspire people to explore them.

“Hedgerows are carbon-guzzling, wildlife-sheltering wonders and they are fundamental to creating a greener, healthier future for all of us and for our planet.”

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