Inspired to take action for the environment by the youth climate strikes, the 6th Woking (St Mary’s) Guides and Brownies planted 1,100 hedge plants for a new 200 metre hedge at Bonhurst Farm in Bramley near Guildford. The farm, which is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust, has a target of planting three kilometres of hedgerow to provide vital habitat for birds, bees, bugs and butterflies.
Zoe Channon, liaison officer for Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: ‘Planting trees is often the first thing people want to do for the environment and was originally what the Guides wanted to do. But hedge planting is an amazing thing to do for the environment and just ticks so many boxes for helping nature to bounce back.’
In the past beautiful natural spaces like woodlands, grasslands and wetlands have become sliced into isolated islands by roads, railways, homes, shops and businesses creating harsh barriers for wildlife. In addition, big bushy hedgerows have been replaced by fencing. So now Surrey Wildlife Trust’s strategy is to reconnect places with hedges to give wildlife space to live and move more freely.
Julie Laidlaw, 6th Woking Guide and Ranger Leader said: ‘We had such a great time planting the new “6th Woking Girlguiding Hedge,” even thought it was rainy grey day. There was about 60 of us and we felt very emotionally invested in what we were doing, creating a legacy for wildlife and future generations. There was a real sense of community spirit and we all went home feeling great: pink cheeked, fresh faced, with smiles all round.’
The hedge plants included Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Hornbeam, Dogwood, Dogrose, Spindle, Crab apple and Oak. The new hedge could benefit more than 130 key species that depend on hedgerows and are at risk of extinction. These species include dormice, hedgehogs, bats, butterflies such as the brown hair streak and rare pearl bordered fritillary, bees, bugs and birds such as the white throat and yellow hammer.
Hedgerows also play a major role in mitigating climate change by preventing soil loss from fields, reducing wind erosion and flooding by acting as a barrier. They also help to reduce pollution from fertilisers and pesticides, regulating water supply and reducing run off, providing vital ecosystem services.
Today a third of all wildlife in the county is already extinct or heading towards extinction. Since 1945 the intensification of farming and the trend towards larger fields has meant that half of hedgerows have disappeared from the landscape. In addition 93 per cent of the county’s remaining hedgerows are now in poor condition.
The hedge planting day offered the Guides and Brownies and their families the opportunity to ask questions, talk and learn about ecology, biodiversity and practical conservation work. The project was supported by Carbon Footprint and Chessington World of Adventures Resort (the Chessington Foundation Fund) and STIHL.
Zoe Channon, added: ‘To protect our valuable wildlife and create jobs for our future, younger people need to upskill in nature conservation skills. Through projects like this we hope to give people the opportunity to develop skills and careers in the environment and also improve the health and well-being of young people by reconnecting them with nature.’
Help Surreys' hedges! Register your interest in participating in our upcoming Lottery Heritage funded Hedgerow Heritage project