Hedgerows are wonderful. As a form of "agroforestry" (planting trees on farms) they provide homes for local wildlife, whilst storing carbon from the atmosphere. Incorporating hedgerows in farmland can make a significant contribution to tackling our climate and biodiversity crises.
But since the Second World War 50% of UK hedgerows have been lost, removed to make space for intensive agriculture. We must replant them.
At the Soil Association we are committed to demonstrating that a nature-friendly farming future - one that includes things like agroforestry - is possible. We want to help more farmers make the transition to this type of farming. And we want to help everyone, especially government, understand the benefits this brings for our nature and climate.
One of the ways we're doing this is by planting hedgerows. And as a charity, we can only continue this work with your help. Become a member today, and together we will make a world of difference.
Read on to discover what makes hedgerows so important...
A whopping 130 of the priority species listed in the government’s Biodiversity Action Plan live in hedgerows!
Harvest mice, hedgehogs, foraging bats and roosting birds are among the creatures that benefit from food and shelter created by hedgerows. Plus, the flowers and berries that fill these wonderful habitats attract pollinators and birds.
Planting hedgerows at Woodoaks farm will create a space where wildlife can thrive.
As we expect climate change to bring more extreme weather events, hedgerows will act as a much-needed barrier at the margins of fields, preventing the fertile farming soil being lost by flash floods.
Hedges have deep root structures which also help to keep soil firmly in place - reducing the risk of it being blown away during dry months, and helping to mitigate flooding in wet ones!
One inch of soil takes over 500 years to form, so protecting it is really important.
50% of UK hedgerows have been lost since World War Two, removed to make way for industrial agriculture. Re-establishing these lost hedgerows can make a significant contribution to the UK's target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The diverse range of plant life in hedges helps combat climate change by absorbing and storing carbon, which is also stored in the soil below.
In fact, research shows that healthy soils store 3 times as much carbon as the atmosphere!
Right now, we are raising funds to plant 2,000 metres of hedgerow at Woodoaks Farm.
Located just outside London, Woodoaks farm was gifted to the Soil Association Land Trust this year. We have an ambition to transform Woodoaks into a flagship organic farm and demonstrate nature-friendly farming in practice. And our first step is hedgerows!
After decades of conventional farm management, the biodiversity of the farm has been under pressure - including through the loss of hedgerows. By replanting what has been lost, and adding some new hedgerows too, we have a chance to create habitats for local wildlife, whilst also bringing benefits for soil and climate.
We need your help to make this happen. By becoming a member today, you will help us plant these much-needed hedgerows at Woodoaks.
You will also support other important areas of our work to make nature-friendly farming, like agroforestry, the norm:
- Working with farmers to deliver practical changes that can help wildlife thrive and support a safe climate for the future.
- Taking the evidence for these changes to government, to campaign for support for farmers to deliver them at scale.