Hedgerow heroes project
In 2022 the Suffolk Preservation Society delivered over 6km of hedgerow restoration in partnership with the Stour Valley Farmer Cluster in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
SPS successfully led the bid for £50k via CPRE’s Hedgerow Heroes campaign to fund the project.
The project was such a success that we have since secured a second round of funding – allowing a further 3km of new hedgerow and 1km of gapping to been planted in 2023 by volunteers across 9 farms in the Cluster – and have successfully bid for a third round to fund planting in 2023/24.
The Stour Valley Farmer Cluster, whose members own & farm the land on which the project was delivered, is a group of 32 farmers who work together to deliver landscape scale biodiversity gain as part of their farm businesses.
Hedges frame and shape the often irregular field pattern of the Dedham Vale AONB; they are one of the key landscape features. Restoration and new planting will contribute to strengthening the landscape character.
The main objectives of the project are to:
- restore poor-quality hedgerows through a programme new hedge planting, gapping up, hedge laying and coppicing
- extend and create new wildlife corridors by linking existing habitats. Species that will benefit include pollinating insects, hedgehog and hazel dormouse; farmland birds and most bat species. Hazel dormouse is the flagship species for the Dedham Vale AONB Nature Recovery programme
- build upon and encourage further community engagement between landowners and volunteers
In the summer SPS members had the chance to learn more about the project as part of our visit to the Tendring Hall Estate at Stoke by Nayland.
The project was planned and executed in consultation with the Dedham Vale AONB team which enabled project volunteer participation.
As part of the project delivery, a team of AONB volunteers helped to develop a bespoke phone app specifically to assist with hedgerow condition surveys and identify lengths for potential new planting.
A team of six volunteers walked an amazing c28,000kms!
Pushing hedgerows up the agenda
In March 2023 SPS hosted a visit from local MP James Cartlidge to discuss the importance of maintaining and increasing the country’s hedgerows. Fiona Wells, coordinator of the Stour Valley Farmer Cluster, presented an overview of the project which is available here.
CPRE’s 2022 campaign calls for the government to commit to 40% more hedgerow by 2050. We were delighted that in the 2023 Environment Improvement Plan the government has committed to target of 45,000 miles of new hedges by 2050 – although this still falls short of CPRE’s aims.