INSPIRED to take action for the environment by the youth strikes for climate, the 6th Woking (St Mary’s) Guides and Brownies recently planted a 200-metre hedgerow, some 1,100 plants, at Bonhurst Farm in Bramley, near Guildford.

The farm, which is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT), has a target of planting three kilometres of hedgerow to provide vital habitat for birds, bees, bugs and butterflies.

Zoe Channon, liaison officer for SWT, said: “Planting trees is often the first thing people want to do for the environment and was originally what the Guides wanted to do, but hedge planting is  amazing and just ticks so many boxes for helping nature to bounce back.”

Julie Laidlaw, 6th Woking Guide and Ranger leader, said: “We had such a great time planting the new ‘6th Woking Girlguiding Hedge’, even though it was a grey, rainy day. There were about 60 of us and we felt emotionally invested in what we were doing, creating a legacy for wildlife and future generations.

“There was a real sense of community spirit and we all went home feeling great: pink-cheeked, fresh-faced, with smiles all round.”

The new hedge could benefit more than 130 key species that depend on hedgerows. These include dormice, hedgehogs, bats, butterflies such as the brown hairstreak and rare pearl-bordered fritillary, bees, bugs and birds including the whitethroat and yellowhammer.

Hedgerows also play a major role in mitigating climate change by preventing soil loss from fields, and reducing wind erosion and flooding by acting as a barrier.  They also help to reduce pollution from fertilisers and pesticides, regulating water supply and reducing run-off, providing vital help to the ecosystem.

A third of all wildlife in the county is already extinct or heading towards extinction. Since 1945, the intensification of farming and the trend towards larger fields has meant that half of hedgerows have disappeared from the landscape. Also, 93 per cent of the county’s remaining hedgerows are in poor condition.

The hedge-planting day offered the Guides and Brownies and their families the opportunity to ask questions, talk and learn about ecology, biodiversity and practical conservation work.

The project was supported by Carbon Footprint and Chessington World of Adventures resort (the Chessington Foundation Fund) and Stihl.

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For the full story get the 20 February edition of the News & Mail