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.

This is a collaborative project to restore and plant hedgerows across the Dedham Vale.

SPS successfully led the bid for £50k via CPRE’s Hedgerow Heroes campaign to fund the project.

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.

Hedgerows 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 landscape character.


The main objectives of the project are to:

  • restore poor-quality hedgerows through a programme of 1500m of new hedge planting, 1,000m of gapping up, 500m of hedge laying and 1800m of coppicing
  • extend and create new wildlife corridors through planting new hedgerows to link existing habitats, prioritising those boundaries alongside footpaths and visible from rights of way. Species that will benefit from the project 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

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!

More to come

The project was such a success that landowner requests for further support for hedge restoration and new planting through the project has outstripped the grant available.

Thus SPS submitted a successful bid for a second round of funding for 2022/3.

16 volunteers have come forward to carry out hedgerow surveys and dates for hedge planting, brash piling in conjunction with coppicing and hedge related walks and workshops are being planned.

The Stour Valley Farm Cluster