Protecting and restoring the UK’s iconic, carbon-busting hedgerows.

Hedgerows are amazing – they are the unsung heroes of our towns and countryside and have the potential to do lots more! Following on from the success of our Close the Gap project in 2021/22, Life on the Hedge, funded by Defra’s Trees Call to Action Fund, is a programme focused on achieving bigger, healthier, better-connected hedgerows.

Life on the Hedge

Improving hedgerow management

We are achieving this through gathering and sharing knowledge to improve hedgerow management, improving supplies of future hedgerow trees through community tree nurseries in schools, and by engaging the public with our importance of our wonderful hedgerows through our annual campaign, National Hedgerow Week!

What makes hedges so brilliant?

  • Hedgerows are great for biodiversity – they provide food, shelter, habitat and vital corridors for a huge range of wildlife. They’re complex ecosystems in their own right and often the only habitat remaining in some wildlife sparse areas.
  • They are climate emergency heroes. Not only do they absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions, they also help prevent damage from flooding, reduce water pollution and cool us down.
  • Hedges help our towns and cities breathe by improving air quality and reducing noise pollution in built-up areas. They absorb pollution particles and can be especially important along roadsides for this reason.
  • They are important to agriculture and in the green economy. Hedges provide shelter and shade for stock animals, support the amazing pollinators we need for crop production, improve soil health and much more!
  • They improve our wellbeing – they give us birdsong, blossoms and berries, add richness to our lives and help us feel better.
  • Hedges are part of our culture and heritage, making up a crucial thread in the rich tapestry of our country.
Life on the Hedge Podcast

Listen to the podcast!

Our Life on the Hedge podcast introduces an amazing young person at the beginning of a blossoming career in nature as they explore the magic of hedgerows and the ever-growing world of green jobs.

How can you get involved?

If you look after any hedges in your garden, farm or school, cut your hedge less frequently and let them get big and bushy – in most situations they are better for wildlife, shelter, carbon and look beautiful. Challenge the old norm that hedges need to be tightly cropped!
If you can and your hedge is ready, lay your hedge to give it the best chance of staying healthy for decades to come! Go to the National Hedgelaying Society’s website to find a hedgelayer near you.
We don’t have enough young trees to replace our old hedgerow trees! Take care of your young hedgerow trees by allowing them to grow up or planting new ones. Keep them healthy by making them conspicuous, tag them, raise awareness of how great they are, make sure they aren’t cut.
Try and use at least five different species when planting your hedge and don’t let any one species take up more than 70% of your hedge. Use locally sourced trees from community tree nurseries if possible!
Schools and communities can apply for funds to plant their own hedge by applying to our Orchards for Schools programme, or our Branching Out Fund. The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group have similar grants for farmers.