Hedgerows are one of the most important ecological building blocks in our farmed landscape. They maintain the distinctive character of our countryside and provide crucial habitats and food for wildlife. Hedgerows can store carbon, improve local air quality and benefit the rural economy by boosting job creation for hedgerow planting and management in local communities.
I am aware that the Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship schemes help land managers deliver environmental benefits on their land. This includes the creation of habitats for wildlife including birds, small mammals and pollinators. Agreement holders can choose from actions ranging from general habitat creation benefitting a variety of species, such as hedgerow creation, as well as actions to target specific species.
Capital grants to support the planting and reinstatement of hedgerows are currently available through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This scheme has provided funding restoration and laying to deliver recognised benefits for wildlife, landscape, and the historic environment. Hedgerow management has been one of the most popular options, with several options available for planting, managing and restoring hedgerows.
Further, I am aware that the Government is rolling out Environmental Land Management Schemes which will support farmers to enhance the natural environment. These schemes will fund the management of hedgerows, in recognition of their historical, cultural and environmental value to our countryside. I look forward to reading more about these schemes as further details are published.