Britain’s hedgerows need to be increased by 40 per cent to help the country reach a net zero carbon target, a report says.
Research by the countryside charity CPRE argues hedgerows are vital in taking carbon from the air.
They are also essential for the flora and fauna of the country.
The CPRE reckons every £1 invested in hedgerows returns £3.92 to the economy.
The report said:
“In its expanse, the hedgerow network is our largest ‘nature reserve’.
“Just as our capillaries branch and penetrate the body to supply all cells with food and oxygen, the UK’s hedgerow network must remain healthy in order to branch and spread deep across our countryside and supply every village, town, city and rural area with the ecosystem services they need.”
George Eustace, the Environment Secretary, said ministers would encourage farmers to plant hedgerows to help reach climate targets.
“The characteristic ‘patchwork quilt’ that is so iconic of the landscapes across our islands is not only a feature of enormous ecological benefit, but is also of great cultural and historic significance, setting out patterns of field boundaries that in some cases can be traced back to the Domesday Book.
“Although subject to human use for many centuries, some of our farmed land still holds important populations of wildlife, including birds such as Yellowhammers and Bullfinches, and animals such as Dormice and bats.”
Tony Juniper, the Chair of Natural England, said:
“We have the opportunity to transform the way the countryside looks and sounds, which includes more hedgerows, as well as improving the ones we have already.
“We are working to ensure that the new farming policy makes the best possible contribution toward the creation of the Nature Recovery Network that is set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan and hedgerows are very much a part of that.
“These wonderful features create natural corridors, provide essential habitats for wildlife, catch and store carbon and bring benefits for the rural economy.”