The government launched a consultation today seeking views on how best to protect and enhance hedgerows, as part of its Environmental Improvement Plan commitment to create or restore 45,000 miles of hedgerows by 2050.
The Tree Council will convene Hedgelink, the national committee on hedgerows, on July 10 to gather the views of members and consider responses to the consultation.
Defra is calling on farmers, food producers, landowners and interest groups to engage with the consultation before its close on September 20.
Responding to the consultation launch, Jess Allan, The Tree Council’s Science & Research Manager – and Hedgelink Co-ordinator – said: “It is encouraging to see progress on the hedgerow protection consultation, which is an essential step to ensuring hedgerows are protected for the future.
“Hedgerows are hugely important and provide a wealth of benefits, whether located in towns and cities, or across the countryside.
“If we are to achieve the national hedgerow target, we must prevent future losses.
“We must have regulations that are fit for purpose, with monitoring and enforcement underpinned by sufficient funding and powers.”
The consultation follows the commitment to restore 30,000 miles of hedgerows by 2037, and 45,000 miles by 2050, announced as part of the government’s Environmental Improvement Plan (EIP).
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Therese Coffey, said: “Hedgerows are a landmark of the British countryside, providing shelter and food for native species, taking carbon out of the atmosphere and reducing flooding.
“We are already enhancing hedgerows through our new farming schemes, and the consultation launched today will provide further legislative backing to make sure our hedgerows are better managed and protected in the future.”
The consultation will seek views on the best way to maintain and improve existing protections, as well as approaches to enforcement.
These include farmers maintaining a buffer strip alongside their hedgerows, and not cutting or trimming hedgerows during bird nesting and rearing season.
Jess Allan added: “We welcome the opportunity to shape the future of hedgerow protection, and encourage all who care about them to take this chance to feed in your views.”
To find out more about Hedgelink, please visit https://hedgelink.org.uk/