Our open letter to government: heroic hedgerows and climate change
CPRE, the countryside charity, has joined with other major charities to call for urgent action to extend the country’s hedgerows by 40% by 2050 to protect nature and help tackle the climate crisis.
Our humble hedgerows are the unsung heroes of the countryside. They have 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 have lost about 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 is why we have 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 last month.
Our open letter calling on the government to do more to extend hedgerows reads as follows:
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.
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