Dorset Climate Action Network (Dorset CAN), a charity instigating measures to address the climate and ecological crisis, has recently welcomed funding for the Great Big Dorset Hedge project from Dorset CPRE, the local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (The Countryside Charity).   

Dorset CPRE has recognised that the Great Big Dorset Hedge (GBDH) project is at a crucial stage of growth and increased effectiveness.  The Trustees agreed to a £6,000 funding request for the project to sustain the momentum as they manage further growth and in recognition of the ambition and potential of the project.  Dorset CAN is very grateful but also recognises that Dorset CPRE has been with us, right from the start of the programme.

Hedgerows are a crucial part of our ecosystem and biodiversity here in Dorset. The project plans to grow throughout 2024. So far, more than 2000 volunteer hours have been dedicated to hedgerow surveys, provided by over 150 active volunteers.

Specialist support is provided to those volunteers by Alex Stephen and Vicki Gallagher, “We would not be able to grow without Alex and Vicki in place, and, right now, that is all due to the generous support we obtain from Dorset CPRE,” stated John Calder, the voluntary Project Manager.

Funding at this time will ensure the project continues to flourish and grow, John hopes to increase from 20 km of hedgerow surveys per month, to closer to 50 km a month. Farmers are taking note, with over 50 signed up. The localised voluntary teams continue to be energised and become more self-sufficient.

Volunteers gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to their survey experience, with benefits such as meeting new like-minded people, getting out in nature, learning new species-identification skills, and making a difference by helping the farmers involved focus on what is needed to improve the condition of their hedgerows. Most of all, our volunteers want to keep doing it again and again.

Dorset CPRE President, Kate Adie and Chair, Neil Matthews both joined John Calder and Linda Williams of Dorset CPRE on a frosty January morning to sample the delights of the GBDH survey process in Chilfrome, near Maiden Newton. John was heartened to hear the empathy that Kate expressed towards the farming community. On top of the cost-of-living crisis and market price challenges they face, they also have the whole farm funding revolution to navigate, and we just know that the GBDH hedgerow surveys are helping them meet that specific challenge.

“Hedgerows are the single most important wildlife corridor in the countryside.  They join up habitats and make the English landscape immediately recognisable.  The work of John Calder and his team is invaluable in helping farmers manage and sustain their hedges for now and in the future. I am so pleased Dorset CPRE is able to support this vital project,” said Neil Matthews.

Readers who wish to join the GBDH Volunteers should sign up here: where you can also view our Short Film on Volunteering.

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