The UK’s hedges are a resource unique in the world, but continue to be under threat. Devon Hedge Group helps farmers and people from the communities near them to reach agreements under which woodfuel groups fell and chop firewood.
The benefits to farmers include reduced management costs for hedges, a supply of firewood, increased understanding of farming issues among local people, and hedges laid using local traditional techniques. Woodfuel group members benefit from free heating fuel, exercise, social interaction and learning about the role of hedges in farming and biodiversity. Devon Hedge Group held a very successful series of community events on farms around Dartmoor last winter.
It has published the Community Woodfuel Toolkit, which shows how to manage issues of insurance, health and safety and competence. It also contains templates for the farmer/community agreement and woodfuel group constitution. Copies of the toolkit will be available at the event. Devon Hedge Group is keen to share its experience in the hope that other parts of the UK might develop locally-appropriate models for farmer/community hedge management.