The Suffolk Preservation Society is delivering 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 will be 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

The project is being planned and executed in consultation with the Dedham Vale AONB team which has enabled project volunteer participation.

As part of the project delivery, a team of AONB volunteers have 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 have walked an amazing c28,000kms so far!

More to come

This summer SPS members will have the chance to learn more about the project, history of our hedgerows, hedgerow management and identification of different species that rely upon them.

The project has been such a success that landowner requests for further support for hedge restoration and new planting through the project has outstripped the current grant available. Thus, there is already a waiting list for new hedges and hedge restoration if further support can be found.

SPS has submitted an expression of interest for a second round of funding for 2022/3.

The Stour Valley Farm Cluster