Hedgerow Heroes Get Off To Flying Start!

Thursday 14th December 2017

Teenagers from Tormead School have a go at hedgelaying.Teenagers from Tormead School have a go at hedgelaying.

Armed with billhooks, spades and loppers, Hedgerow Heroes are on a mission – to save Surrey’s hedgerows! From Guildford to Reigate, Warlingham to Leatherhead, volunteers have been getting stuck in to planting and restoring hedges.

The conservation campaign is all part of a new initiative by Surrey Wildlife Trust to protect the county’s precious hedgerow network. The Trust’s Living Landscapes Manager Jim Jones is heading up the new Hedgerow Heroes project – he’s thrilled it’s got off to such a flying start.

“It’s fantastic to see so many people of all ages and abilities having a go at hedgelaying and hedge planting,” he said. “We hope their efforts will inspire other people in communities in Surrey to get involved to make a difference to hedgerows in their neighbourhoods.”

Volunteers at All Saint’s Church in Warlingham were inspired after reading about the Hedgerow Heroes campaign. They set about planting a new 110m hedgerow including hawthorn, English oak, hazel, dog rose and sweet briar in the ancient churchyard.

“It is a sad fact that many hedgerows have been lost, but here is Warlingham a new native hedgerow has been born!” said Marion Havard, the Churchyard Maintenance Officer.

“The volunteers are looking forward to seeing their hedgerow grow and offer a new habitat for wildlife to thrive. We work hard to keep the large churchyard as an ecological sanctuary as well as respectful for the bereaved. Over the years surveys have shown this policy is helping wildlife, which ranges from wild flowers and butterflies to roe deer.”

In Guildford, teenagers from Tormead School tried their hands at the traditional art of hedgelaying, as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. The group joined Trust staff at Broadstreet Common, where they were shown how to use a billhook safely and learned about the importance of hedges for wildlife.

Reigate and Redhill Allotment holders are also Hedgerow Heroes – they planted a native hedgerow at Paddock Allotment. Hedge species included hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, dogwood, guelder rose and hazel. The hedge will provide local wildlife with food - berries/seeds/ pollen/nectar - and refuge. It forms part of the Bees Needs project, transforming unused parts of allotments into wildlife havens.

Over at Norbury Park near Leatherhead, Hedgerow Hero volunteers enjoyed a day learning about hedgelaying techniques and the importance of habitat restoration.

While in Merstham, Friends of Merstham Parks and Greenspaces cleaned up rubbish and created a ‘dead hedge’ in Furzefield Wood. Made up of woody debris and branches, this creates a useful barrier and wildlife habitat.

Since the Second World War more than 120,000km of hedgerows have been lost nationwide through intensive farming and development. Many hedges that remain are being damaged by over cutting or neglect.

The Hedgerow Heroes project is also training volunteers in hedge survey and traditional management techniques. Information collected will be used to build up a database of information about the current state of the county’s hedgerows. 

“Hedgerows are vitally important for lots of different species, including birds, bees, bats and small mammals,” added Jim. “They are like the green arteries of the landscape, enabling wildlife to live, thrive and move around.

“We all have a local hedge, whether it’s at home, school or work – we really hope more people will join us to help conserve this wonderful wildlife habitat for future generations.”

The Hedgerow Heroes project has been kick-started with a generous donation of £20,000 from Chessington World of Adventures Resort’s Conservation Fund. This has enabled the Trust to run a series of hedgelaying Fridays across the county, when volunteers can drop in and have a go.

To sign up as a Hedgerow Hero volunteer to help save hedges in your neighbourhood and to stay informed of all future hedgelaying events visit our Hedgerow Heroes page.

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Outdoor learning, Species, Volunteering, Wildlife gardening