Hedgerow Heroes

David Marsh

Last modified:
22nd August 2022

England has lost more than 200,000 miles of hedgerow since 1947. Between 1947 and 1985, over 4,300 miles of dry stone walls were lost, with 96% of the remaining walls in need of restoration. This loss and neglect has badly damaged the beauty and biodiversity of our landscape.

CPRE is committed to protecting hedgerows and dry stone walls – features which give beauty and character to our landscape and are valuable corridors for wildlife.

Hedgerows are vital and wild pockets of biodiversity and provide habitats for pollinating insects and birds, a vital component in the health of our farming practice and food production.

Their patterns stitch the characteristic patchwork quilt over the countryside and they are intimately connected with our history and ancestors. We have long campaigned for better protection for hedgerows, and continue to do so.

CPRE published a national report in September 2020: Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy. Read more here.

Hedgerows for nature, the climate and people

CPRE has long argued that hedgerows could be champions of climate action and nature recovery. But our new analysis has laid out how expanding hedgerow cover can contribute tens of thousands of jobs to hard-hit local communities.

Investing in 40% more hedgerows would support around 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs in hedgerow planting and management over the next 30 years across both rural and urban areas.

For every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated in the wider economy due to key environmental and economic benefits provided by hedgerows. We want to see these benefits recognised by the government and clear targets and plans, of the sort already announced for tree-planting, set. Local authorities can support community groups to plant more hedgerows while farmers can help by letting hedgerows grow taller and bushier.

Now’s the time: the UK hosts COP26, the international climate summit, in Glasgow in less than two months. CPRE is calling on the government for a firm commitment: set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050.

Crispin Truman, CPRE’s chief executive, said:
‘Half of our precious hedgerows have been ripped from the landscape since the second world war and we’ve seen a huge decline in nature and soaring carbon emissions. There’s a lot of work to do.

We’re calling on ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows. This would be seen as a bold step by the UK government in the lead up to hosting the international climate summit to support nature’s recovery, help grow us out of the economic downturn and tackle the climate emergency head-on.’

Read more on the National CPRE website.

Support the CPRE #40by50 campaign, calling on the government to commit to extending the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050. Sign the petition now

in September 2020, read more here.

Giving Hedgerows a New Lease of Life

CPRE and Wild Oxfordshire are really excited to be working with the community groups and parish councils of Kidlington, Watlington and Eynsham to plant new hedgerows and rejuvenate ancient ones.

Read more about the project here.

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