National Hedgerow Week (29 May – 06 June) has been launched to highlight the immense contribution these unsung heroes of the natural world make in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and urban air pollution.
50% of hedges have been lost since WWII, meaning there has never been a more important time to get the country planting and protecting these wonderful mini nature reserves in our towns and countryside.
Planting new hedgerows
The Committee on Climate Change has advised that we need to plant 200,000km of new hedgerows if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero target. That is the equivalent length of half the UK road network.
Healthy hedgerows are essential habitats for UK biodiversity, supporting over 2,000 species including the hedgehog and several European Protected Species – notably the dormouse, the great-crested newt and most species of bat, including the greater horseshoe bat.
National Hedgerow Week, an initiative from The Tree Council and partners, will celebrate the wonderful variety of plants that make up our hedgerows – from hawthorns and blackthorns to wild roses, brambles and many more.
With an estimated 3 million new gardeners since lockdown began, now is the moment to highlight the nature-based solutions hedgerows can bring to our environmental challenges.
Hedge funds available
Throughout the week there will be a range of exciting hedge-inspired activities for volunteers and the public and the UK’s first All Natural Hedgefunds will be distributed.
The Farming Hedgefund will grant £500,000 to landowners in England to help them fill hedgerow gaps and plant 30 miles of new hedges this winter.
A Community Hedgefund will also be available for volunteer Tree Wardens and local groups to plant new community hedges.
‘Hedges are great at capturing carbon and are an essential habitat for our wildlife – not only in the countryside but our towns and cities too. Urban hedges provide shelter, nest sites, food and movement corridors for wildlife and in the countryside they are a key habitat for important species like bumblebees and beetles.
‘Protecting and growing these fantastic little nature reserves is essential if we’re to stop biodiversity loss and fight climate change. They are also wonderful for our mental health and talking to them really does raise a smile and a few eyebrows.’
DR MICHAEL GARRATT
Principal Research Fellow, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading
Talk to your hedge
The week will kick off with an invitation for people to get up close and personal, reconnect and talk to their hedge!
For too long, hedges have been in the background of conservation, rarely getting the love of their taller cousins (the trees). They are often referred to as messy and needing to be cut back, trimmed, chopped or even ripped out.
The organisers behind National Hedgerow Week believe it’s time to put hedges in the limelight and give them the praise and vocabulary they deserve. It’s time to marvel at the underbrush, praise the fine pleaching and hunker down with the hawthorns.