Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy

Resource explained

This research, commissioned by CPRE, the countryside charity, and undertaken independently by the Organic Research Centre, provides an evidence-based analysis of the environmental and economic benefits of hedgerows. The research investigates what 40% more hedgerows could mean for nature, climate and the economy – and CPRE makes recommendations on how the Government, local authorities, farmers and land managers can maximise the astounding potential of hedgerows. It is divided into sections that focus on costs, jobs and wider economic benefits, biodiversity, climate emergency, cultural services, water and air quality.

Findings & recommendations

  • For every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated for the wider economy.
  • 40% more hedgerows would result in over 25,000 more jobs over a 30-year period for hedgerow planting and maintenance.
  • Expanding the hedgerow network would benefit biodiversity, some of which is important for agriculture through their pollination services and natural pest control.
  • On average, for every £1 of investment made in hedgerow planting and management, £1.73 of economic benefits are generated for farmers due to increased crop yields and a reduction in insecticide use.
  • 40% increase in the UK’s hedgerows would have a sequestration potential, above and below ground, of as much as 5 million tonnes of carbon – potentially the equivalent of 18.5 million tonnes of CO2.
  • A 40% increase in UK hedgerows could be worth more than £60 million a year in terms of its impact on outdoor recreation.
  • For every £1 of investment in hedgerows in flood risk catchment areas, £2.50 of economic benefits are generated as saved costs.
  • CPRE is calling on the Government to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050, which would be a win-win-win for climate, nature and the economy.
  • Farmers and land managers should maximise the environmental benefits of hedgerows by allowing them to grow taller and wider and ensuring flowering plants are allowed to grow around hedgerows at the field margin.

Summary provided by:

Phil Sumption

Edited by:

Janie Caldbeck

Associated Agricology Partner Organisation(s):

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