Research projects

Aiming high for hedgerows

Contract Period : 04/09/2023 - 12/02/2024

Main Funder : The Countryside Charity (CPRE)

ORC Staff Contact : Will Simonson

The UK Government has set a target of reaching 30,000 miles of planted or restored hedgerow in England by 2037, and 45,000 miles by 2050. This project, commissioned by CPRE, aims to understand if and how such targets can be reached.

We will identify the potential for hedgerow planting or restoration in each National Character Area. This will help targeting funding and initiatives to where they can be most effective, ensuring early progress can be made towards these targets.

We will also bring together stakeholders from existing projects to explore the benefits and costs of various hedgerow planting schemes. This will be important to identify the barriers that could potentially obstruct attempts to reach the government goals. Bringing the results of these two workstreams together, a final report with policy recommendations will be produced. Wider resources will also be developed, such as presentation and infographics, to spread the results to a wider audience.

Project Leaders and Partners

  • ORC (project leader)
  • CPRE

Project Aims

Reaching the UK Governments target of 30,000 miles of hedgerow planted or restored in England by 2037 and 45,000 by 2050, is not a simple task. While much research has been done into the benefits hedgerows can bring, such as ORC and CPRE’s previous ‘Hedge Fund‘ project, further work is needed into how these benefits can be realised by increasing planting across the UK.

Each geographic area of the UK (National Character Area) is unique and not all will have the same level of potential for increasing hedgerow planting. This project will aim to identify those areas that are key to reaching the ambitious targets set by the government.

Likewise each community and hedgerow project is unique and will have different approaches to the challenge of increasing hedgerow cover. Understanding the stakeholders involved in past and current planting projects and identifying their needs and concerns, through case study development and comparison, will allow for a clear picture of how planting can succeed in a variety of contexts.

These results will be brought together and published, sharing the recommendations to a wider audience in the hope that future planting projects can take onboard the research done and make significant progress towards the Government goals.

ORC’s Role

Under the guidance of CPRE, ORC will carry out research to identify and map the hedgerow potential for the 159 National Character Areas of the UK. Additionally consultations with stakeholders and the production of case studies for past and existing planting schemes will be carried out. Finally ORC will bring these results together in the form of a report, infographics, and other materials for sharing to a wider audience.

Previous relevant work

ORC Team involved with this project

Principal Researcher, Agroforesty
Senior Agroforestry Researcher
Christian Gossel
Farm Sustainability Researcher