The first week of June 2021 is the UK’s first ever National Hedgerow Week. It couldn’t be a better time – the hawthorn is blossoming, birds are singing, and wildflowers are bursting into colour. The week is an initiative by The Tree Council to highlight the huge contribution hedgerows make to our natural world: increasing biodiversity, capturing carbon, and reducing air pollution.

The UK has lost 50% of its hedgerows since the Second World War, and the Tree Council’s free guide helps people understand the importance of these vanishing habitats and the urgent need to protect them. On Twitter, #TalkToTheHedge provides a space for people to come together to share things they notice about their local hedgerows.

Britain’s hedgerows stretch over 700,000 km – that’s 1.5 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. They are the largest wildlife habitat in the UK, providing a home for over 2,000 species, including frogs, newts, birds, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Many of our most at-risk species find a habitat in hedgerows – 80% of our woodland birds, 50% of our mammals and 30% of our butterflies call hedgerows their home. In addition, every kilometre of new hedgerow can store 600-800kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, meaning they play a key role in the fight against climate change.

The NHS can play a big part in increasing the extent of this vital and unique habitat. At the NHS Forest, we provide free trees for planting on or near NHS land, so do get in touch if you would like to request saplings for the next tree planting season, which starts each November. We can provide traditional hedgerow trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel, and will work with you to offer advice and support on every step of your hedgerow planting journey.

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