CPRE believes that hedgerows are the vital stitching in the patchwork quilt of the English countryside. They lend beauty and character to the landscape and provide a wide range of benefits to wildlife and the wider environment. They provide tangible, and widely appreciated, signs of the changing seasons while at the same time giving a strong sense of continuity. They also make a significant contribution to local distinctiveness and a sense of place. CPRE is committed to working to protect these important and iconic landscape features.
CPRE and hedgerows
We began our campaign for hedgerow protection in the 1970s and welcomed the introduction of the Hedgerows Regulations in 1997. The new regulations afforded the first statutory protection for important hedgerows.
CPRE believes that the landscape and cultural importance of hedgerows lies at the heart of why people value them so highly. Hedgerows tell us about the history of a place and its people. They show us how the land was divided and managed in the past, demarcate historic public rights of way and protect archaeological treasures. The beauty of hedgerows in the landscape should be retained for future generations to enjoy, so that they can discover their own history and appreciate the local identity of the place in which they live.
Hedgerows are the most widespread semi-natural habitat in England. Over large parts of the lowlands they are the main surviving habitat of this kind and are critical to the existence of numerous plants and animals. They are particularly important within areas of intensive farming and for the survival of widespread yet declining species, which are dependent on woodland edge, scrub or rough grassland habitats.
We want to see:
- At the national level, the Government to introduce a landscape criterion to the Hedgerows Regulations – this would give local councils more discretion to protect hedges that are important to local landscape character.
- The Government delivering on its manifesto commitment to ‘spend Common Agricultural Policy funding to enhance England’s countryside over the next five years, including protecting [stonewalls and] hedges’.
- Local councils taking a plan-based approach to strengthen hedgerow protection in their areas. For example, neighbourhood plans and more detailed landscape character assessments would be a way to identify locally important hedgerows.
Comparing hedgerows in the Czech Republic to the English approach.
This guide explains why our hedgerows matter and how you can help. It also includes a handy hedgerow plant identifier.
In an age of increasing uniformity, hedgerows make an important contribution to local distinctiveness – giving a real sense of place and continuity with generations past, present and future.
CPRE has been campaigning on hedgerow protection for many years and several of our branches have been involved in initiatives to protect hedgerows in their counties.