This hedge project is part of “Land Matters”, a much wider vision of land management in the Valley that involves other categories of land – moors, woodland, rivers, open spaces in settlements and private gardens.
Hedges were a quintessential part of the countryside. They also sequester significant carbon. The Commission on Climate Change plan to achieve net zero by 2030 includes a 40% increase in hedgerows and we are confident we can achieve this in Hope Valley.
Village groups up and down the Valley are involved in nature restoration and protecting wildlife. For example, HVCA are involved in tree planting projects in Grindleford, Bamford and Castleton, and in verge management projects in Hathersage. And there are many other initiatives promoted by other groups.
The hedge project is a partnership project between HVCA and the Peak Park Farming in protected landscapes team, Hope Valley Farmers, facilitated by Chloe Palmer and Christine Harding, and 6 farmers/landowners. Hedges sequester significant carbon. The Commission on Climate Change plan to achieve net zero by 2030 includes a 40% increase in hedgerows and we are confident we can achieve this in Hope Valley.
The aim of the project is to plant 2400 metres of new hedge this winter ie. before the end of February 2023. We aim to continue the project and plant and restore significantly more hedges the following winter.
The hedge whips, stakes and guards are being provided gratis by the Woodland Trust. But all the ear-marked sites are boundaries of grazing fields, and the new hedges will need double fencing. This is the major cost of the project.
The key benefits of restoring hedges are increased carbon sequestration from both the above ground herbage and the below ground soil quality. Hedges store carbon above and below ground, with taller, wider hedges storing greater amounts. Hedges can be important in reducing run-off and soil erosion and so can contribute to flood control. They are also an important part of the landscape contributing to the sense of place.
Hedges provide shelter and shade for livestock and crops. They also provide habitats for pollinators and natural predators of crop pests. As well as providing valuable wildlife habitat, hedgerows provide corridors between other habitats allowing animals to move across the landscape. They can, for example, provide important links between patches of woodland that are too small to support viable populations of species. Many species, such as bats and newts require well-connected hedgerows.
Many insect species depend on particular plants that provide different nectar and pollen. So, the greater the variety of plants, the greater diversity of insects and their predators too. Animals also use the different types of habitat that different plants provide. A thrush will nest in the shrubby structure of the hedge, sing from hedgerow trees, hunt snails in the base of the hedge and eat berries later in the season.
HVCA sees this hedge project as a wonderful opportunity to begin working with farmers to help address the climate emergency and to help restore nature. The project has the potential to scale-up and make a major contribution to nature and carbon capture in the Valley.
Farmers will have a continuing responsibility for the hedges for 5 years after planting. We will map and photograph each stretch of hedge 4 times: before planting, immediately after planting, after 18 months and after 5 years. Rebekah Newman, for the Peak Park, and HVCA’s Land Group intend to use tried and testing research methods of data logging and lab analysis to monitor the carbon capture and nature impacts of the hedging.
The second stage of the project continues HVCA’s strategy of encouraging improvements in carbon sequestration and restoration of in the Hope Valley and, in addition, seeks to measure the potential for increased carbon sequestration and storage. The project covers the pastoral landscape of the whole of the Hope Valley from Sparrowpit, Edale and the Derwent Valley as far as Ladybower reservoir down to Calver. A consultant will be employed to undertake the work with the intention of undertaking a second phase of planting in the winter of 2023/4.
To scope subsequent phases of tree planting and hedge management as part of a wider strategy of achieving net zero carbon for land use in the Hope Valley by 2050.
- Map existing hedges and hedge condition – this will be done using the existing RPA maps and aerial photos. Hedges will be categorised as in good condition, poor condition but complete, good with gaps, poor with gaps etc. The aim is to identify opportunities for improved management and gap filling.
- Identify potential new hedge planting – this will consist of all the field boundaries where there is not a hedge or a wall.
- Identify other woodland creation opportunities which enhance the landscape and have the potential to support farm incomes with carbon credits. We will look for expressions of interest from farmers.
- Establish a baseline of existing hedgerow carbon sequestration – using existing carbon tools (Peak District Carbon Tool and the GWCT Carbon Tool) and estimate potential,
- Calculate the potential for increased carbon sequestration and storage if all opportunities were taken to plant new hedges and enhance the condition of existing poor-quality hedges.
- Develop costed proposal for future planting and calculate how much contribution it would make to the 2050 carbon zero land use target.