Heroes Wanted - To Help our Hedgerows!

Monday 10th July 2017

© Jon Hawkins

Hedgerows are a haven for wildlife such as hedgehogs, butterflies and birds, but this vital habitat may be under threat. Now Surrey Wildlife Trust is launching an exciting new project called ‘Hedgerow Heroes’, to train an army of volunteers to help save the county’s precious hedge network.

“Hedgerows are fantastically important for lots of different species, providing excellent habitat for dormice and commuting routes for bats. Hedgehogs use them for foraging and shelter and they are a magnet for birds and bees,” said Jim Jones, the Trust’s Living Landscapes Project Manager.

“Hedgerows form vital natural highways, enabling wildlife to move around. They can also help prevent flooding and slow down soil erosion. But hedgerows are very under-recorded in Surrey. A lot of them may be in a very poor state – surveys suggest just 10 per cent are in good condition - and that needs to change.”

Hedgerows are at risk from intensive farming and development and many are being damaged by over pruning or neglect. Since the Second World War more than 120,000km of hedgerows have been lost. Some of the ancient hedges that remain are rich in plants such as hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn and oak – an amazing 130 species of conservation concern are known to rely on them.

As part of the Hedgerow Heroes project, teams of volunteers will be shown how to carry out hedgerow surveys and trained in traditional hedgerow management techniques. They will also plant new hedgerows in some areas. Information collected by the volunteers will be used to build up a database of information about the current state of the county’s hedgerows.

Dee Durham from Guildford has been volunteering with the Trust for some time and has recently signed up to become one of the Trust’s new Hedgerow Heroes.

“I’ve learnt so much about habitats and species and I’m really looking forward to having a go at hedge laying,” she said. “Volunteering is great fun – I love being out in the fresh air and it’s a wonderful way of meeting new people, while doing my bit to help conserve the beautiful Surrey countryside.”

The Hedgerow Heroes project has been kick-started with a fantastic donation of £20,000 from Chessington World of Adventures Resort’s Conservation Fund. And Trust staff James Herd and Ben Habgood raised an amazing £7,000 with their gruelling ‘Race 4 Wildlife’ challenge last year, when they cycled, canoed and ran 170 miles across the county in just three days.

Jim Jones, also known as ‘Hedgie Jim’, has travelled to the Netherlands to take part in a mass community hedge laying competition and is convinced of the benefits of connecting people and communities with the natural world.

“Hedgerows provide a real sense of place for people - the UK’s landscape would look very different without them,” he said. “Hedgerow Heroes will play a key role in helping to secure the future of this vital habitat and we really need people in communities across Surrey to get out there and get involved!”

To sign up as a Hedgerow Hero to help hedges in your neighbourhood and for more information about the project click here >> 

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Volunteering, Wildlife gardening