Andrew Gwynne, MP For Denton and Reddish, became a Hedgerow hero and pledged to back an ambitious increase in hedgerow cover to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.
The pledge was signed by a number of parliamentarians and agriculture experts at the launch of landmark research by The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The CPRE is a charity that focusses on protecting and developing green, accessible spaces. It’s research has found that an increase in the Hedgerow network in the British Countryside by 40% could create 25,000 jobs and have massive ecological benefits.
Hedgerows – one of the UK’s most accessible wildlife habitats, can be found on roads, footpaths, and gardens. They have a range of ecological benefits and can help absorb carbon, protect against flooding and improve soil fertility.
The CPRE also found that for every £1 invested in hedgerows, £3.92 could be returned to the right economy.
Commenting on the research and the launch, Andrew Gwynne said:
“As Secretary of Friends of the Tame Valley, I know all too well the ecological and economic benefits of investing in green spaces. That’s why I was so pleased to become a hedgerow hero and support CPRE’s fascinating research.
As we approach COP26, policymakers need to be looking at ways to improve our environment and reach net zero.
Since 1945, the UK’s hedgerow network has shrunk by around 50%, and it’s vital that we invest in the network in order to improve our environment and secure a greener future for generations to come.”
Commenting on the research, Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said:
‘It is almost impossible to define the enormous value of our hedgerow network – just as our arteries and veins supply our bodies with nutrients and oxygen, the UK’s hedgerow network defines many of our rural landscapes and must remain healthy to benefit villages, towns and cities. Our research shows that investing in our hedgerows is a win-win for climate and people in both the countryside and urban areas.
‘Sadly, half of our precious hedgerows have been ripped from the landscape since the Second World War and we’ve seen a huge decline in nature and soaring carbon emissions. There is a lot of work to do. Local authorities can support community groups
to plant more hedgerows while farmers can help by letting hedgerows grow taller, and bushier.
‘But we know the government has the biggest part to play in unleashing the full potential of hedgerows. That’s why we’re calling on Ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows. This would be seen as a bold step by the UK government in the lead up to hosting the international climate summit to support nature’s recovery, help grow us out of the economic downturn and tackle the climate emergency head on.