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Thank you for the Hedges!

National Hedgerow Week has rolled around again and my thoughts turn with gratitude to the farmers up and down the country who do their best by their hedgerows year in, year out; maintaining, rejuvenating and adding to these unique and precious habitats which lie at the very heart of the character of our countryside.

Before I worked in farming I had always admired hedgerows but rather took them for granted - especially so the people behind maintaining them.

Working with FWAG East it soon became very clear to me that having lots of hedgerows can be something of a mixed blessing for a farm business. On the one hand hedge management can be a huge and costly job of work that may be tempting to skim over or ignore altogether. On the other, if done properly, it is a challenge with potentially huge rewards for both farm wildlife and farmer. Though much progress must be acknowledged over the past few decades, hedgerows are still a blessing which some fail to fully embrace.

This year, to mark National Hedgerow Week 2024, we have made a short film with farmers in Essex, Herts and Cambs to highlight this challenge and the benefits of doing it well, in particular with the more generous government funding now available for planting, coppicing, gapping-up and even laying. You don't even need to be in a stewardship agreement for the wider farm, there are standalone grants available under stewardship and a variety of hedgerow options available under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI).

This National Hedgerow Week we are calling on all farmers to #hedgeyourbest. As always, FWAG East is available to help you make a plan for your farm hedgerows and secure funding to manage them, so that they become an asset rather than a cost to the farm business. We are here to help you produce hedges that deliver the most for the farm environment and become a flourishing natural history legacy in our wider landscape to be enjoyed by all for centuries to come.

You can watch our latest film 'Hedge your Best' below (and view the three we made for National Hedgerow Week 2021 below that):

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