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England’s hedgerows offer a valuable habitat for wildlife, amongst many other benefits, and we’re working to protect them and create more.

Hedgerow loss accelerated after World War 2. The traditional practice of laying and coppicing shifted to ‘flailing’ where the hedge is flailed (cut) to the same height year after year. Added to this, the increasing pressures to intensify farming saw thousands of miles of hedgerows ripped out. The flailed hedges that remained became gapped, and eventually grew into lines of trees offering less shelter, food and protection from the elements. With the loss of hedgerow, we have lost so much more: The flowers, cover and larval foodplants for pollinators and other insects, nesting spots for farmland birds and hidey holes for smaller mammals have all disappeared.

Boosting biodiversity

Healthy Hedgerows are made up of a range of different plant species at different heights along them to successfully support a mix of wildlife. Take

the yellowhammers and linnets who prefers hedgerows under 2m whereas the song thrushes and turtle doves prefer hedgerows over 4m.

A well-managed, healthy hedgerow will support large populations of invertebrates, provide habitats to birds and mammals and give a rich supply of food throughout the year.

To ensure the hedge remains in peak health, instead of annually flailing, it should be trimmed on a minimum of a three-year rotation. This increases the hedge fruit and promotes healthy growth with 40% more flowers and fruits than if cut annually! Hedges should ideally be at least 2m high

CPRE has rich history with hedgerows

Across the country, CPRE has been restoring local landscapes through the ‘Hedgerows Heroes Project.’ The campaign to restore the country’s hedgerows is nothing new; it was in CPRE’s founding manifesto in 1926 that the “indiscriminate destruction” of hedgerows was first warned against.

In Gloucestershire, we joined a national project in 2008 working on a surveying and mapping project thanks to a generous landscape legacy. We then embarked on our first Hedgerow Heroes project in 2023, which is due to finish this spring.

Hedgerow heroes project in Gloucestershire

We will plant and restore at least 1km of hedgerow across the county by the end of May. So far, we have laid 250km of hedgerow. We have enough plants to be able to plant more…and hope to do so!

Our project is being run in partnership with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West, and has seen us work with a variety of community groups including schools, urban demographics, corporations and a range of voluntary organisations too. We are committed to empowering local communities in their natural spaces and helping them to engage in a practical and proactive way.

Want to get involved in the project? Email Millie, our Project Officer, on