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Case Study: Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster Hedgerow Project

Overview

The Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) has been working with eighteen farmers in the Central Chilterns Farmer Cluster, to help plan and deliver landscape scale habitat creation and restoration projects. 

For this hedgerow project, the Chilterns Conservation Board applied for £134,000 of Farming in Protected Landscapes funding on behalf of eight of the farms. The farmers planned specific hedgerow projects that would be completed by the end of March 2022. The project also secured £34,965 funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £8,896 contribution from the eight farms involved.   

Prior to this Farming in Protected Landscapes project starting, each of the farms had a Whole Farm Plan produced as part of the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs project, and this really helped speed up the application because a lot of the survey work and strategic thinking had already been done.  

Objectives 

The project had multiple objectives, meeting many of the programme themes as well as priorities of the Chilterns AONB:   

  • Biodiversity: maintaining, enhancing and creating new hedgerow habitat for wildlife.
  • Climate: carbon sequestration and reduction of surface run-off.
  • Place: reinforcing and enhancing the quality and character of the landscape. 
FIPL hedgerow volunteers Collingshanger Farm
Volunteers who took part in hedgelaying at Collingshanger Farm

 

Actions and outcomes 

The CCB was the lead applicant for the project and managed the delivery across the eight farms. In total across the eight farms the project has:  

  • Planted 5,315m of new hedgerow.
  • Gapped up 329m of existing hedgerow.
  • Coppiced 1,293m of existing hedgerow.
  • Laid 250m of existing hedgerow.
  • Planted 192 new hedgerow trees.
  • Installed 9,597m of stock fencing (to protect hedgerows from livestock and deer).
  • Installed 27 new farm gates to support farm operations around new hedgerows and new field configurations.
  • Purchased a new petrol-powered post knocker to support farmers to install stock fencing.
  • Purchased a pair of tractor mounted hedge shears (Slanetrac swivel-trim sa1000) to allow better ongoing and long term rotational management of hedgerows  

The objectives of the project are therefore already being met and will continue to be met over time as new hedgerows mature and existing hedgerows re-grow.   

Keys to success 

  • Having a Whole Farms Plans in place made it much easier to get an application written, approved and implemented. CCB would be supportive of helping farmers and land managers with funding for Whole Farm Plans that will lead to action on the ground. 
  • Working collaboratively at scale helped with value for money, effective procurement and contract management. It also provides added value via monitoring of the project (e.g. species surveys across large areas) and ongoing support through the farm cluster through regular best practice sessions to support farmers with hedgerow management. 
  • The collaborative approach (via the existing farm cluster) helped farmers overcome barriers such as the lack of time and resources to make landscape scale connections and get technical and contract support. 

The farmer cluster was established as part of the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs landscape partnership, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

Have you got an idea for a project you'd like to apply for funding for? If so, Contact us today and we'll guide you through the application process.

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