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The North would benefit most from hedgerows, National Hedgerow Week research reveals

The Tree Council

May 9, 2024

Research commissioned by The Tree Council partner, CPRE, the countryside charity, reveals that seven out of the eight areas of England that would benefit most from the creation of new hedgerows are in the north.

For National Hedgerow Week, CPRE is calling on the government to target these areas to help deliver its commitment to create or restore 30,000 miles of hedgerow by 2037.

The analysis, conducted by the Organic Research Centre, considered historical hedgerow cover, the condition of existing hedgerow networks and levels of ongoing government support. Specially developed mapping techniques were used to identify areas with the most suitable habitat for hedgerow creation and restoration.

The areas that scored highest against all priority criteria are:

  1. North Northumberland Coastal Plain (Northumberland)
  2. Howgill Fells (Yorkshire/Cumbria)
  3. Vale of Pickering (Yorkshire)
  4. Vale of York (Yorkshire)
  5. Southern Lincolnshire Edge (Lincolnshire)
  6. Trent and Belvoir Vales (Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire/Leicestershire)
  7. Mersey Valley (Lancashire)
  8. Berkshire and Marlborough Downs (Berkshire/Wiltshire)

The new research also revealed a significant loss of hedgerow coverage from historical levels across two thirds of the country. Despite this, almost half of England has seen some degree of hedgerow improvement or creation.

Annie Heslop, Annie Heslop, Life on the Hedge Project Manager for The Tree Council said: “It’s really encouraging to see hedgerows being recognised for just how important they really are.

“They bring us so many benefits, from wildlife havens, to greening up our towns and cities, yet they are in decline. The Government’s Hedgerow target is a great step to increasing and improving our nation’s hedges.

“We hope that support and funding will be directed to where it can have the most benefit and welcome CPRE’s research into this.”

Hedgerows have huge positive impacts on the environment. Previous research has demonstrated their role in reducing water pollution, improving soil quality, mitigating climate change, managing water flow and providing crucial habitat corridors for wildlife.

Emma Marrington, CPRE landscape enhancement lead, said: “Hedgerows are icons of the English landscape and such an important part of the nation’s heritage. Whether in the countryside, towns and cities, people love the sights and sounds of hedgerows near home.

“This is why it’s so important for the government to deliver on its ambitious hedgerow targets. CPRE hopes that this exciting research will help inform where hedgerows across the country could be planted, restored and rejuvenated. Improving our network of hedgerows is a win for the environment, wildlife and the climate.”

 

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