Increasing hedgerows – which soak up carbon and protect against flooding – by 40% could create 25,000 jobs, new data has revealed.
The Countryside Charity (formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England) said new research conducted by the Organic Research Centre on its behalf found that growing more hedgerows would result in 25,000 more jobs in hedgerow planting and maintenance in both rural and urban areas.
This builds on a report by the Climate Change Committee that has recommended that the country’s hedgerow network be increased by 40% to support the UK government’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The CPRE also said if the right hedgerows are planted in the right place, for every £1 ($1.38) invested in hedgerow planting, as much as £3.92 could be generated in the wider economy.
"Our research shows that investing in our hedgerows is a win-win for climate and people in both the countryside and urban areas,” said Crispin Truman, CEO of the Countryside Charity.
"We’re calling on ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows. This would be seen as a bold step by the UK government in the lead up to hosting the international climate summit to support nature’s recovery, help grow us out of the economic downturn and tackle the climate emergency head on," he added.
The research was launched at the first in-person environmental parliamentary reception since lockdown in March 2020, attended by UK's environment secretary George Eustice as well as Selaine Saxby, Conservative MP for North Devon, members of the environment sector and the Countryside Charity’s network of local groups.
Earlier this year the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the UK must move from ambition to action to achieve net-zero goals by 2050.
At the time, the CBI's director-general Tony Danker had said: "We’ve got just under five months to go until the UK hosts COP26. We need to raise global ambitions and make this the boldest year of net-zero action yet."
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