A major omission from proposals to increase the number of trees to meet the UK’s climate targets is the hedgerow, a characteristic but woefully underappreciated feature of the British landscape (Support UK farmers to meet climate targets, ministers told, 28 September)
Our hedgerows are amazing – England alone has 400,000km of them. Sadly, the predominant form of “management”, annual mechanical flailing by tractor (which discharges huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere), suppresses the growth of millions of potential trees already in the hedgerow. So millions of trees, such as ashes and oaks, do not need to be planted – they just need to be allowed to grow.
Why can’t we manage our hedgerows more permissively, allowing trees to mature at regular intervals? If trees were allowed to grow at intervals of 20 metres, yielding 50 trees/km, we could gain 20m trees in England alone. This is a conservative figure, and we could easily grow one tree every 10 metres. This would yield 40m new trees, with no need for planting and no cost.
The big mystery is: why are we so neglecting the potential of that quintessential feature of our rural landscape – the humble hedgerow?
Dr Mark Tilzey
• Joe Brindle’s founding of Teach the Future highlights the appetite of young people to better understand climate change (‘We deserve to be taught about it’: why students want climate crisis classes, 28 September). Schools have responsibilities to teach about climate change and much of this is provided through geography lessons.
The geography national curriculum requires the study of change in the climate from the last ice age (2.6m years ago) to the present. GCSE pupils also cover the characteristics of climate change and evidence for different causes, including human activity, while A-level geographers must study the interconnected carbon cycle, including how humans move more carbon into the atmosphere than plants can store when we burn fossil fuels.
In fact, when the Royal Geographical Society conducted a YouGov poll last year asking the public to identify which subjects might help teach children about climate change, geography was the most frequently selected choice at GCSE (74%).
Geography plays a central role in climate change education, so I urge students with a desire to address the climate emergency to choose geography when selecting their course options.
Head of education and outdoor learning, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)