A fund of £500,000 is now available for farmers to plant new hedges, hedgerow trees and gap planting.

The Tree Council is leading Close the Gap, a project to champion hedgerows.

They are asking farmers to get involved to boost biodiversity, tackle climate change and preserve the unique character of the English countryside.

As well as grants, farmers can access management information and advice for new and existing hedgerows, with actions that can save time and money on farm bottom lines as well as helping biodiversity and climate change.

Surveying hedgerows, and allowing others to, with a new Healthy Hedgerows app will, with just a handful of questions, give management options for each hedge surveyed, helping farmers plan and manage a thriving network of hedgerows without adding to their busy workloads.

Sara Lom, CEO of The Tree Council explained, “As guardians of the land, many farmers have managed miles of hedgerows for generations.

"Now, more than ever, we need them to play a renewed role in planting, protecting, and restoring our nation’s hedgerows.

"We’re working with our partners the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to offer new hedge management guidance and grant funding to plant 50km (32 miles) of new hedgerows and hedgerow trees with farmers next season. We’re thrilled the NFU is backing the project too.”

Many farmers are aware that livestock and arable businesses benefit from healthy, well-managed hedgerows.

They provide valuable shade and shelter for livestock and research in 2017 showed that for arable land, a good hedgerow boosts crop productivity by increasing the pollinators and beneficial predators around field margins.

Hedgerows can also help reduce flood risk and provide natural flood defence to all types of farms including reducing soil erosion through run off.

Research shows climate change has increased flood risk in England and Wales by at least 20 per cent.

Farmers wishing to register interest in Close the Gap hedgerow grants or find out more should email farmhedgerows@treecouncil.org.uk or call Emily Stacey at FWAG on 07854 323349.

Farmers wishing to register interest in hedge surveys should email PTES key habitats project officer at megan.gimber@ptes.org.