Boosting hedgerows by 40 per cent would create 25,000 jobs, CPRE research reveals

The hedgerow network is our largest, most connected, ‘nature reserve (pic Julie Davies)
  • For every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated for the wider economy, new research from CPRE, the countryside charity, has revealed
  • CPRE is calling on the government to stop dragging its feet and set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40 per cent by 2050, which would be a win-win-win for climate, nature and the economy

Hedgerows could become champions of climate action and nature recovery while contributing tens of thousands of jobs to hard-hit communities, new analysis from CPRE, the countryside charity, has revealed.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommends that the extent of our hedgerow network should be increased by 40 per cent to support the UK government’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
If the right hedgerows are planted in the right place, for every £1 invested in hedgerow planting, as much as £3.92 is generated in the wider economy.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, said: “It is almost impossible to define the enormous value of our hedgerow network – just as our arteries and veins supply our bodies with nutrients and oxygen, the UK’s hedgerow network defines many of our rural landscapes and must remain healthy to benefit  villages, towns and cities. Our research shows that investing in our hedgerows is a win-win for climate and people in both the countryside and urban areas.
“But we know the government has the biggest part to play in unleashing the full potential of hedgerows. That’s why we’re calling on ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40 per cent by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows.
In its expanse, the hedgerow network is our largest, most connected, ‘nature reserve’. Healthy hedgerows are teeming with life and vital for nature. One in nine of all vulnerable species in the UK are associated with hedgerows. These include the hazel dormouse; the hedgehog, whose decline has been closely associated with hedgerow loss; and the brown hairstreak butterfly, which lays its eggs on blackthorn and is particularly common in hedgerows.
Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, said: “What was a determination to make land more productive in order to feed our people during and after the war has led to indiscriminate destruction of our hedgerows. Spurred on by Deficiency Payments and the Common Agricultural Policy, our yields rose and our wildlife diminished.
“Reintroduction and proper maintenance of hedgerows transforms the all too sterile prairie land into the countryside, which for long we have loved. But, as this report shows, this is not about romance – the hard facts are that hedges contribute to profit as well as to well-being.”
There is a parliamentary launch of our hedgerows campaign this afternoon, hosted by MP Selaine Saxby.

Monday, September 6, 2021