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Community action and hedgerow success with Hedgerow Heroes phase 3

23rd May 2024

The third year of CPRE’s Hedgerow Heroes project has come to a close, with planting and restoration targets exceeded and thousands of volunteers actively making a difference in their community for nature and climate.

The Hedgerow Heroes project, which is corporate-funded, began three years ago and supports local CPREs in mobilising their communities to plant and restore hedgerows, with 31km planted or restored during the autumn and winter of 2023-4.

Collaboration ‘centre stage’

For phase 3, collaboration and partnership took centre stage. From local schools to conservation charities and farmers, CPRE groups have worked with over 100 organisations, 2,614 volunteers, 363 children and over 100 leaders and trainers. Regular meetings took place with participating groups who were more connected than ever, sharing inspiration and best practice to deliver our biggest and best Hedgerow Heroes project yet.

Volunteers holding up a Hedgerow Heroes banner near planted hedgerows
Collaboration has been key for the Hedgerow Heroes project, like CPRE Oxfordshire teaming up with Wild Oxfordshire | CPRE Oxfordshire

Working with communities

Nine local CPRE groups took part in phase 3 of the Hedgerow Heroes project. Groups from Avon & Bristol, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, London, Oxfordshire, Peak District & South Yorkshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Suffolk have each co-ordinated their own hedgerow-related activities, from talks to training sessions and planting days.

Avon and Bristol

With nature recovery at its heart, CPRE Avon and Bristol focused their efforts in the West of England Nature Recovery Network and Areas of Nature Conservation Importance. Working with councils, schools and trainers, volunteers have been upskilled in hedgerow management and hedgelaying. They were also able to influence South Gloucestershire Council in implementing a ‘good hedgerow management’ procedure.


CPRE Gloucestershire saw opportunities beyond hedgerow planting as part of their project. Providing educational opportunities and having valuable conversations with individuals, groups, farmers and independent businesses have helped connect people to their local green spaces and created long-term plans for engagement. This included running school engagement days, inspiring young people to connect with their countryside.


For CPRE Hampshire, Hedgerow Heroes has inspired an even larger project involving hedgerow restoration, The Hampshire Hedge. This is a hugely ambitious project aiming to connect the New Forest and South Downs National Parks. Working with landowners, volunteers, farmers and funders, CPRE Hampshire have put hedgerows on the map in local communities across the county, from children to older members of the community. They’ve even been able to create five green jobs – including a hedgerow project officer role and three hedgelaying traineeships.


Engaging with communities across the city and borough, CPRE London have been supporting community planting and helping people build hedgerow knowledge and skills. From hedgelaying training to hedgerow walks and talks, they’ve helped strengthen the relationship that local people have with their green spaces and provided amazing volunteering opportunities.


Surpassing all targets, CPRE Oxfordshire have had a hugely successful Hedgerow Heroes project this year. They have upskilled local volunteers and inspired passion and enthusiasm for hedgerows in the area. The group has also demonstrated the power of charity collaboration, working with Wild Oxfordshire to restore hedgerow habitats across the county, as well as catalysing important conversations about policy with decision-makers.

Peak District & South Yorkshire

Celebrating their centenary this year, CPRE Peak District & South Yorkshire laid 100 metres of hedge at Haythornthwaite Wood in Sheffield (named after one of CPRE’s earliest campaigners). The wood was planted 30 years ago in the heart of Sheffield’s Great Belt, with their project restoring a hedgerow which had fallen into a poor state.


With an ambitious series of events and activities, this was another amazing year for CPRE Shropshire, who have now been involved in Hedgerow Heroes for three years running. With support from experts, they’ve restored or planted 18km of hedgerow in three years. This year, they’ve continued that work by expanding their volunteer network, training more people, and hosting hugely popular creative workshops to a range of different audiences.


For CPRE Staffordshire, not only have they built fruitful partnerships with farmers, community groups and local decision-makers, but the Hedgerow Heroes project has been a crucial step in building their supporter base. From interactive talks to local festivals, the group has not only planted almost 2.5km of hedgerow, but inspired people young and old across the county to take action for hedgerows.


With so many of our hedgerows on farmland, CPRE Suffolk worked closely with farmers as part of their project to restore and regenerate hedgerows on agricultural land. They worked with the Stour Valley Farmer Cluster and focused on connecting habitats close to public footpaths – not only boosting habitat quality but local access to nature. Their work has engaged farmers across the county and inspired many to plant their own hedgerows, showing the power of working together for positive change.

Another successful year

Hedgerow Heroes phase 3 has been an enormous success, with every local group planting or restoring miles of hedgerow as well as connecting their communities to nature. Lorraine Ray, Hedgerow Heroes Project Manager, said:

‘The Hedgerow Heroes project has brought people together in local communities, rejuvenating and creating miles of hedgerow across farmland, parks and green spaces. Hundreds of people have learnt rural skills and appreciate the value of hedgerows for wildlife and our environment.’

Find out more

You can find out more about local hedgerow restoration projects by contacting your local group.

At CPRE, we’ve been campaigning for hedgerows many years. Hedgerows are the unsung heroes of our countryside, providing a home for wildlife, connecting people to nature and helping us tackle climate change. Most recently, we released a report on how we should approach hedgerow planting to meet the Defra targets, which you can find more about here.

Agriculture students hedgelaying in Hampshire
Agriculture students hedgelaying in Hampshire CPRE Hampshire


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