CPRE’s Hedgerow Heroes – the volunteers restoring local landscapes

By Countryside Voices

Thanks to a generous corporate donation, we are funding five of our county CPREs in a project that will create or restore almost 10 miles of hedgerow by May 2022.

The initiative supports CPRE’s #40by50 campaign to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises through a 40% increase in hedgerows by 2050. Working with local landowners to identify the sites that would benefit most, our groups are aiming to engage a combined total of 600 volunteers, 15 schools and two colleges.

We’re excited to be introducing so many people to practical conservation work that will deepen their connection to local countryside. Here’s the latest information on what’s happening in each area, with links to the five county websites: 

Hampshire

A group of people standing by a farm gate in woodland
CPRE Hampshire’s hedgerow volunteers on the Meyrick Estate with hedgelaying trainer Chris Sparkes (left) | Bob Hart

CPRE Hampshire volunteers will be working to plant and restore almost two miles of hedgerow on the Meyrick Estate near the New Forest National Park. Local people will benefit from restored footpaths accessing the sites, where interpretation boards will enhance their understanding of the hedgerows. Meanwhile, regular visits from Bransgore primary and Highcliffe secondary school pupils will form part of a special educational project.

The activities kicked off with comprehensive wildlife surveys over the summer, while hedgelaying and planting is set to begin in earnest in December, led by expert Chris Sparkes.

Find out more and get involved at www.cprehampshire.org.uk/hedgerows

 

Oxfordshire

Three people standing in front of a wooden fence in a gap in a hedgerow
CPRE Oxfordshire’s Richard Harding (centre) launches the new hedgerow campaign with Roselle Chapman of Wild Oxfordshire (left) and county councillor Dr Pete Sudbury (right) | Nicola Schafer Photography

CPRE Oxfordshire is excited to be working with conservation charity Wild Oxfordshire, and the parish councils of Watlington, Kidlington and Eynsham, to rejuvenate 250 metres of ancient hedgerow and create over a mile of new habitat. 10 planting days will be held over winter, following a November training day with hedgelayer Nigel Adams.

In the meantime, volunteers and the general public will be able to enjoy naturalist John Wright’s online talk on the history of British hedgerows (Tues 2 Nov) – part of CPRE Oxfordshire’s 90th anniversary lecture series. This will be followed by four hedgerow webinars hosted by Wild Oxfordshire, with speakers including ecologist Rob Wolton and habitats campaigner Megan Gimber.

Find out more and get involved at www.cpre.org.uk

 

Shropshire

Cows grazing with hedgerows and hills in the background
The hedge-lined pastures of the Shropshire Marches near Chirbury | FLPA / Alamy Stock Photo

CPRE Shropshire volunteers will be planting over a mile of new hedgerow and filling in gaps in existing ones this winter, enhancing 24 sites in the county. Before then, our volunteers are teaming up with the Shropshire Hills Young Rangers to hold an October hedgelaying workshop for 12 to 16-year-olds; November will then see two 2-day training events for adults, and a workshop designed for farmers and landowners.

Our group is also hosting a fascinating series of online talks about hedgerows, with presentations still to come from Bug Life’s Kate Jones on their importance for insects; Roy Vickery on how they’ve shaped our folklore; and Adele Nozedar on foraging for food. 

Find out more and get involved at www.cpreshropshire.org.uk/hedgerow-project

 

Suffolk

A flat landscape with views of pasture and hedgerows
Suffolk’s ‘Constable Country’, seen here from Wissington, will soon benefit from more and healthier hedgerows | Robert Clare / Alamy Stock Photo

CPRE Suffolk is providing opportunities for community involvement in revitalising hedgerows on four farms in ‘Constable Country’ – the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A November training day will teach volunteers hedgerow management techniques – including the traditional Suffolk method of coppicing, before work begins on planting and restoring four miles of hedgerow.

The projects will all take place within view of footpaths and lanes to maximise public engagement, with CPRE Suffolk president Geoffrey Probert hoping they prove to be pilots which will ‘light a fire of enthusiasm for roll out elsewhere.’

 

Gloucestershire

A newly laid hedgerow in a hilly landscape
Traditional Cotswolds hedgelaying – as seen here near Winchcombe – helps maintain this iconic landscape | Nick Turner / Alamy Stock Photo

CPRE Gloucestershire is joining forces with the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group to support farmers in creating over two miles of new hedgerow in the county, The aim is to link existing hedgerow habitats to increase the biodiversity and climate change resilience of farmed landscapes. Our group is also helping to sponsor over half a mile of new hedgerow as part of a wider project to create wildlife corridors between the waterways of the Cotswolds.


With work in all five counties set to progress throughout winter and spring (weather and pandemic permitting!), do look out for updates on this page and contact the relevant group to find out about local volunteering opportunities.
   

A group of people with hedgelaying equipment standing next to a hedge in winter
CPRE volunteers during a 2019 hedgelaying project at Hogacre Common in Oxford's Green Belt CPRE

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