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Planting begins for Hampshire Hedge Conservation Project

Vicky Marr
By Vicky Marr
18th November 2023

The latest and most ambition CPRE Hampshire hedgerow initiative, the ‘Hampshire Hedge’ was launched on Tuesday 21st November, on the Compton Farm estate just outside Winchester.

Ecology students from the University of Sparsholt, land management course were joined by over 80 invited guests to enjoy a day of hedge planting and see demonstrations of the ancient craft of hedge laying.

The project has received funding from National CPRE Hedgerow Heroes project, The Linbury Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Hampshire Hedge is a 3-year project that will connect the South Downs National Park with the New Forest National Park by means of a network of hedgerows forming a green corridor of new and restored habitat. The hedgerow is planned to wind its way for about 14 miles (22km) through the central Hampshire parishes and link woodlands, meadows, local nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

Along the route the project will be engaging with the local schools and communities, creating hedge laying traineeships, encouraging volunteer action, running training days in hedge laying, and raising awareness of the importance of hedgerows through talks and events.

Hampshire is unique in that it has two national parks and three AONBs in its boundary making up over 40% of its land area. CPRE Hampshire wanted a project to celebrate the high-quality landscape we have and so developed the idea of planting a hedge to link the two national parks together that will provide an important landscape and wildlife feature that can form part of the nature recovery strategy for Hampshire.

Ellie Banks, CPRE Hampshire hedgerow project officer explains ‘It is great to be starting the planting element of the project, our target is to plant 3 miles of new hedging this year, which is 25,000 whips going into the ground this winter. We will also be laying ½ a mile of existing hedge. Hedge laying involves the cutting and weaving together of saplings to encourages dense new growth at the base. They intermingle to form a natural barrier which provides food and shelter for birds and animals.”

More than half of England’s rural hedgerows have been lost since 1945.

Ellie explained: “The big problem in this country is that wildlife is fragmented on ‘islands’ and unable to get between those habitats, so hedgerows can provide that connectivity. We are keen to work with communities and volunteers along the route. We have organised regular events and would love to hear from people if they want to get involved’

To find out more visit our Hedgerow Heroes volunteer page.

See more photos from our launch event.