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Tree Council launches new phase of its Hedge Tree Campaign

Hedge trees, and the hedgerows they grow in, have a special place in this year’s National Tree Week as The Tree Council and its member organisations start a new phase in the drive to plant many more of them.

Tree Council launches new phase of it's Hedge Tree Campaign
Photo credit: The Tree Council

It’s never been more urgent. In the ten years to 2007, hedgerow tree numbers fell by nearly four per cent and the trend seems to be continuing. There is certainly a scarcity of young trees to replace mature ones that are being lost. That’s why The Tree Council, using its new Hedge Fund, is working with the National Hedgelaying
Society and Stella Artois to plant 73km of hedges and more than 8,500 hedge trees across the UK.

It’s the latest stage of The Tree Council’s Hedge Tree Campaign, supported by Network Rail. This aims to reverse the decline of the trees that are so important to the British landscape and its wildlife, complementing the work of other partners in Hedgelink – the Hedgerow Habitat Action Plan steering group.

Over 600 species of plants, 1,500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammals inhabit hedgerows, including more than 125 priority biodiversity action plan (BAP) species. Hedgerows provide food, shelter, nesting and roosting sites, and habitat corridors along which to travel. They are vital for 20 priority species of birds and 10 of Britain's rarest mammals, including the dormouse and bats like the soprano pipistrelle.

Tree Council launches new phase of its Hedge Tree Campaign
Photo credit: The Tree Council

Oxford University research also shows that hedgerow trees increase the number and diversity of moths. So the hedgerow can reasonably claim to be Britain’s largest nature reserve at 642,000kms long.

About 80 Hedge Fund grants have been allocated to Tree Council member organisations – including 34 to volunteer Tree Warden networks.

Landscape and wildlife are two driving factors for projects being carried out by organisations that range from the Snowdonia National Park Authority and Central Scotland Forest Trust to the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and the Bat Conservation Trust. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is choosing hedgerow plants that are particularly valuable to dormice, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has cirl bunting in its
sights.   

Tree Council launches new phase of its Hedge Tree Campaign
Photo credit: The Tree Council

Tree Wardens are planting wildlife corridor hedges in West Sussex and replacing lost hedges and boosting hedgerow tree numbers in Shropshire. In London, they will be planting hedges to create a safe attractive environment in one of the Haringey’s parks and as screening around a play area in Merton. The Tree Council is also funding individual Tree Wardens to plant new trees in or close to parish hedges.

With 30,000 new trees needed every year just to stabilise the current population of 1.6 million isolated hedgerow trees, efforts like these are essential.

The Tree Council began National Tree Week in 1975 and it’s now a major part of its Community Action Programme.  This includes the Tree Care Campaign (March to September), Walk in the Woods (throughout May) and Seed Gathering Season (23 September to 23 October). Find out more at www.treecouncil.org.uk

• As part of The Tree Council’s National Tree Week, the BBC Breathing Places team is organising the Tree O’Clock record attempt on Saturday 5 December 2009. Tree Wardens and Tree Council member organisations will be helping to set the Guinness World Record for the most trees planted in one hour in multiple locations.

First published in CJS Focus on Trees and Hedges in association with The Tree Council, for National Tree Week on 23 November 2009