Our open letter: hedgerows, the climate and nature heroes

21st July 2021

CPRE, the countryside charity, has joined with other major charities to call for urgent action to extend our hedgerows by 40% by 2050 in order to protect nature and tackle the climate crisis.

Our humble hedgerows are the unsung heroes of the countryside. They’ve been adding beauty and character to our landscapes for centuries, while providing the food and shelter that sustains our wildlife. They protect the soil, clean the air and absorb carbon emissions.

But we’ve lost around half since 1945. Now, as we face up to the climate emergency, we urgently need to start reversing that decline – and allow our hedgerows to play their most important role yet.

That’s why we’ve launched our #40by50 campaign, calling on ministers to commit to extending the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 as recommended by the independent Climate Change Committee, and have written to the government to this effect as published in The Times on 24 Jul 2021 (paywall).

Full text of our open letter calling on the government to do more to extend hedgerows

24 July 2021

Hedgerows: the climate and nature heroes

Tree planting and peatland restoration are important parts of the government’s plan to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. Yet there is still one powerful solution missing from its strategy: the humble hedgerow.

Hedgerows are the unsung heroes of our countryside. They are icons of our landscape, steeped in history, providing a haven for wildlife while absorbing carbon emissions. The hedgerow network, in its expanse, is our largest ‘nature reserve’. Shockingly, it is estimated that more than half our hedgerows have been lost since WW2, and many existing hedgerows are in a poor, degraded state.

The Climate Change Committee recommends extending the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 to help achieve net-zero. Ahead of COP26, now is the time for Ministers to show real leadership by committing to this target, while restoring our existing hedgerow network, to deliver a more resilient, beautiful and biodiverse countryside.

Yours,

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity

Dawn Varley, chief executive, Badger Trust

Kit Stoner, chief executive, Bat Conservation Trust

Anita Konrad, chief executive, Campaign for National Parks

Mark Bridgeman, president, Country Land and Business Association

Lizzie Glithero-West, chief executive, Heritage Alliance

John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace

Shaun Spiers, executive director, Green Alliance

Hilary McGrady, director-general, National Trust

Jill Nelson, chief executive, People’s Trust for Endangered Species

Emma Marsh, director, RSPB England

Sara Lom, chief executive, The Tree Council

Craig Bennett, chief executive, The Wildlife Trusts

Richard Benwell, chief executive, Wildlife & Countryside Link

Dr Darren Moorcroft, chief executive, Woodland Trust

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