are linear woodlands, and in a lot of cases, have sat stable
for up to a thousand years (see Hooper’s
If hedgerows are given a monetary value then the farmer/owner
has an asset, and this asset is worth maintaining for the
In history, most hedgerows would have connected up small plots
of woodland, which enabled the migration of woodland species
to and from quite wide areas (Bluebells, Dormice). Their place
in the landscape is undeniably crucial for ecology.
There is no reason now why hedgerows cannot be considered
for carbon capture. A good hedgerow will comprise of species
found in most broadleaf woodland in the UK - oak, hazel, ash,
maple, willow, birch, crab, hawthorn, blackthorn and the odd
Historically, the local network of hedges would give up the
occasional timber tree for framing or cartwheels, along with
an incredible array of products from the smaller poles –
withies for tying in the hedge, rods for hurdles, pegs, pipes,
sticks (it is endless).
There are still BIG trees in hedges all over the country,
and many will stand there until they fall and the bats vacate.
There can be more BIG trees in hedges and there could be
tonnes and tonnes (probably ends at around 1 million!) of
wood that can be utilised to reduce CO2 emissions even further.
A hedge is no different to a line of coppice stools, and,
as with coppice, the stools will have been processing and
storing carbon, in many cases, for hundreds of years.
A hedge (as with coppice again) in the first year after
cutting will produce as much re-grown leaf space for photosynthesis
as a ‘tubed-tree’ planted 15 years earlier.
Take a 200 metre length of hedge x 2 metres wide and it
won’t take you long to realise that you are looking
at as many trees/stems as you will find in a hectare of
newly planted ‘woodland’!
Estimates of how much hedgerow there is in the UK seem to
vary from 300,000 to 700,000 miles, a figure which does
not include urban hedging. For the purpose of this calculation,
we have suggested that there are about 450,000 miles (720,000km)
of hedgerow in the UK, as it stands today (October 2010).
If we suggest that there are, on average across the UK,
1500 stems per 200 metres of hedgerow then, potentially,
we have the equivalent of nearly 4million hectares of under-utilised
woodland! These hedges could be providing 500,000 tonnes
of fuel wood a year. At £150 per tonne, that makes
for one of the best performing hedge funds of recent times!