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Celebrate the humble hedge

28 May 2021

Lucy Ritchie, Partner

Sustainability is an integral part of both our culture and values. By 2030, we have committed to net-zero, across our operations and investments, an ambitious climate target that is pioneering in our sector. In addition, through our LGT Vestra Forest project, we are actively investing in carbon capture and reforestation. Together, these practices will significantly reduce our impact on climate change, but we will not stop there.

Next week (29th May until 6th June) marks the UK's first National Hedgerow Week. The Tree Council is inviting the nation to give hedgerows the recognition that they deserve for their magnificent contribution in fighting climate change, air pollution and biodiversity loss. The Tree Council has worked tirelessly across the UK over the years to tackle a multitude of issues, not least climate change, and we are pleased to support their work in National Hedgerow week.

Hedgerows are strips of woodland edge habitat that come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes and combinations. The shrubs making up these hedgerows that tend to flourish in the UK include hawthorns, blackthorns, wild roses, brambles, hazel and hornbeam. Perhaps lesser known or publicised than trees for their environmental contribution, hedges nevertheless are extremely effective carbon captors contributing positively to critical air purification. The messier the bottom of the hedgerow, the more hospitable the hedge is to its wildlife. Hedgerows support over 2,000 species including the hedgehog, dormouse, bat (including the greater horseshoe bat), and great-crested newt.

Traditionally, hedges were a useful way to mark out boundaries and retain livestock. However, after the Second World War, the government incentivised landowners to remove hedges to allow for access for larger machinery to increase yields on food production. Continued development and urbanisation over subsequent years took a further toll on our hedgerows both in their length, quality and their connectedness which is important for species movement and survival. The Committee on Climate Change has now advised that the UK needs to plant 200,000km of new hedgerows if it is going to meet its 2050 net-zero target. This ambitious target represents the equivalent of half the UK road network, yet we all know what is at stake.

The Tree Council has launched a week-long spotlight on our hedges to create the impetus for action that is so necessary. The week will begin with the launch of #Talktothehedge. The Tree Council has composed a written guide on all things hedgerow which has been designed to entertain, educate and encourage people to see the wonder of the hedgerow. It will even take a more artistic approach to the subject by including people, words and expressions about our beloved hedgerows.

Sara Lom, CEO at The Tree Council, said: “Words have the power to tell stunning stories and bring characters to life. That’s why language really matters when it comes to connecting with the environment and the natural world. Hedgerows are the hidden heroes and sleeping beauties of our streets and countryside and each has a unique tale to tell. Talk To The Hedge is a playful way to start an important conversation about these beautiful, bountiful, bustling habitats and their essential role in saving the planet.”

The Tree Council have developed the following additional and practical suggestions to encourage participation in the week and thereafter:

  • Allow hedges to grow an additional foot to supercharge the hedge's ability to capture carbon and air pollution
  • Cut hedges back only in the winter (November to February) outside bird nesting season
  • Do not prune to the same place each time for shrub health
  • Start planting a blend of native shrubs and trees to provide a bio-diverse and strong hedge that nature will benefit from
  • Tune in to the free Hedge Talks that will be run by the Tree Council to learn more about hedgerows and allow you champion them locally
  • If you care to champion a hedge in your locality, you can obtain advice on how to apply for a grant of funding
  • Consider contributing to their 'Pledge a Hedge' campaign where every £15 donated will be used to fund a metre of new hedgerow in the UK

We wish you a happy and fulfilling National Hedgerow Week.

About The Tree Council 

The Tree Council is a national charity and membership organisation which brings people together with a shared mission to care for trees and our planet’s future. They inspire and empower organisations, government, communities and individuals with the knowledge and tools to create positive, lasting change at a national and local level. Find out more about The Tree Council at https://treecouncil.org.uk/ and their campaign at www.nationalhedgerowweek.org.uk

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