Hedgerows are an archetypal feature in the British landscape, decorating the patchwork of small fields in the countryside. Historically, the purpose of these hedgerows was for stock proof fencing yet today we recognise a plethora of benefits that hedgerows provide.
Hedgerows are extremely vital for biodiversity. They have become essential wildlife corridors and provide food, shelter, and nesting locations for a wide variety of animals. Hedgerows benefit the farming community too. They provide shade for livestock grazing in pasture, protect crops from high winds, increase pollination and modulate crop pests. Hedgerows are becoming ever more important in the face of climate change as they suck carbon from the atmosphere, regulate water during flood and drought events and provide a renewable source of fuel.
Over recent decades much of our hedgerows have been improperly managed or removed from the countryside completely. Consequently, there is a need to replace lost hedgerow and improve their condition so we can reap the benefits along with the birds, bugs, and bees!
This year (2023/24) we have nine parishes on board including:
Wild Oxfordshire, supported by CPRE, are working alongside volunteers within these communities to develop bespoke hedgerow projects, planting new hedgerows and restoring existing hedgerows by gapping up, hedgelaying or coppicing. Collectively we hope to plant 2.3 km of new hedgerow and restore 650m of hedgerow which builds on the success of the first phase of Wild Oxfordshire’s Hedgerow Heroes project.
This project is funded by CPRE.
One aim of Hedgerow Heroes is to increase local knowledge on hedgerows and their management. Wild Oxfordshire have partnered with Wychwood Forest Trust to deliver four hedgelaying training workshops this winter (2023/24). Our aspiration is to equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge so they can properly manage hedgerows within their own community.
Back in 2021/22 Wild Oxfordshire was involved in the very first year of HH. Volunteers in Watlington, Eynsham and Kidlington planted 1.7 km of new hedgerow, restored 480m of hedgerow and captivated 550 people in the process (CPRE Phase 1 Hedgerow Heroes report). You can read more about these projects in our blog or simply take a glimpse by watching the short film below, created by local film maker Nicola Schafer.
We are hoping to run another round of Hedgerow Heroes in Oxfordshire for the 2024/25 planting season. If you and your local community would be interested participating, please contact: Jessica Bouwer. See our guidance for ways you can help hedgerow habitat in your neighbourhood.
Watch West Meadow Hedgerow film by Nicola Schafer. West Meadow is a key site in the Oxfordshire Hedgerow Heroes project
Watch How to plant a hedge with Nigel Adams filmed in Watlington by Nicola Schafer
Download How to care for a new hedgerow pdf
More hedgerow related guidance here