Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
The Woodland Trust has decades of experience helping farmers to make their businesses more economically and ecologically resilient with trees and hedges. We take... Farmer builds resilience with trees and hedges

The Woodland Trust has decades of experience helping farmers to make their businesses more economically and ecologically resilient with trees and hedges. We take a look at one landowner’s experience of planting with the Trust’s MOREhedges scheme.

Iconic features in our countryside, hedgerows do a lot for the world around us. They clean our air, capture carbon, reduce flooding and give clues to historic land management. But perhaps their greatest feat is nurturing wildlife. Hedgerows provide a home for a remarkable 80% of our butterflies, bats, hedgehogs and woodland birds, along with a host of other species.

For Ben Butler, director of the 1,000-acre Manor Farm in Avebury, Wiltshire, balancing a profitable working farm while doing his bit for wildlife is “hugely important”.

“Should we be producing food or giving up farmland to wildlife?” he asks. “I think you can do both. We have been producing food on a good scale but you don’t have to farm right up to the fence line. There is a place for wildlife.”

The mixed farm has been in the Butler family since 1937 and combines 750 acres of arable and 250 acres of grassland. They also raise 100 head of beef cattle, graze around 140 ewe lambs and, on the arable side, rotate wheat, barley, oilseed rape and some spring beans and linseed.

Ben and his family have a long track record of doing their bit for conservation and continue to look for areas on the farm where they can make a difference, without encroaching on productive land.

As with much of the British countryside, Manor Farm has seen steep decline in hedgerow acreage in the last century. Replanting lost hedgerows seemed like the perfect way to give wildlife a helping hand.

Ben said: “Talking to the older generations, they recall boundaries of our fields being hedged. We felt it would be nice to put it back.”

 

 

 

 

 

In spring 2021 Ben applied for the Trust’s MOREhedges scheme, and 250m of native hedgerow trees were planted that winter, including blackthorn, crab apple, dogwood, dog rose, field maple and hazel.

“I couldn’t fault any of the materials, plants or the process,” said Ben. “I was very happy with the stock I received. The plants had been properly spiralled, caned and sheltered, and I was confident in the longevity and traceability of what was planted.

“I wouldn’t have a second thought about going back to the Woodland Trust.”

The family’s nature-friendly farming practices had already seen an increase in biodiversity, and the new planting will further enhance this by providing food, shelter and wildlife corridors, linking previously fragmented habitats.

Ben added: “Wildlife is a benefit to what we do. It’s good for the image of the industry and it’s good for the environment.”

If, like Ben, you’re looking to boost biodiversity on your farm, the Woodland Trust, with generous funding from Lloyds Bank, offers the advice and support you need to plant with confidence.  Their flagship schemes, MOREwoods and MOREhedges, have already helped UK landowners to plant over 3,500 hectares of new native woodland and 500km of hedgerow. Find out how you can benefit.

MOREwoods

The MOREwoods scheme is ideal for anyone planting over half a hectare of woodland. Whether you want to plant a shelterbelt or harvest your own woodfuel, the Trust can provide tailored advice and support, including:

  • A dedicated project officer who’ll guide your application from start to finish.
  • Help to design your woodland and select the best species mix.
  • Delivery of your trees and plant protection to suit you.
  • Up to 75% subsidy if you plant yourself, or 60% if you would like a contractor to plant the trees.

MOREhedges

Alternatively, if you are looking to plant over 100m of hedgerow, the MOREhedges scheme provides:

  • A standard hedgerow mix of native shrub species.
  • Your choice of species of full height trees, to be interspersed in the row.
  • Appropriate protection, including spirals, canes, tubes and stakes.
  • Funding of up to 75% of the cost of the project.

Apply now to receive your trees this planting season.

MOREwoods and MOREhedges are funded by Lloyds Bank to support sustainable farming.