Replanting of historic hedgerow turns back time and provides new wildlife habitat

Updated: 6 December 2021

Historic hedgerows which date back hundreds of years are being restored in Three Rivers district several decades after they were torn out.

Historic hedgerows which date back hundreds of years are being restored in Three Rivers district several decades after they were torn out.

Volunteers at Woodoaks Farm, in Maple Cross, began replanting the hedgerows last week – restoring a boundary across the centre of a large field. Teams have been following historic maps in order to recreate the original 15 acre field.

Members of the Countryside Management Service, who work on a number of green spaces across Hertfordshire, helped layout the hedgerow as well as direct local volunteers. Among those helping were two employees of Three Rivers District Council, volunteers from local churches and local campaign group Sustainable Three Rivers.

Rose Lewis from the Soil Association and Woodoaks Farm said: “Woodoaks Farm is committed to restoring old habitats and creating new ones so you will see new hedgerows popping up across our landscape over the next two seasons. We couldn’t have done this without the amazing support of our volunteers who have planted them and our tenant farmers The Whitby Family Farm who have been quick to protect them with new fencing – it was great to see young and old get involved helping them do their bit to help solve our twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

The 200 metre long hedge was planted in two rows and contains a variety of species which bloom at different times of the year providing birds and bees with food.

Cllr Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability, said: “For many years we have been used to seeing established hedgerows removed to increase the size of fields. What we are seeing today is an amazing achievement, actually restoring hedgerows back to the way they were a century ago – and thus providing a habitat for countless wildlife and boosting biodiversity. What a great legacy.”

Restoring hedgerows on agricultural land helps create habitats and wildlife corridors for a range of small mammals and insects. These corridors help to connect different habitats which improves genetic diversity in wildlife.

Not only does the hedgerow improve biodiversity it will also help offset local carbon emissions.

Elen Roberts, Climate Change, Sustainability and Recycling Officer at Three Rivers District Council, who was also one of the volunteers, said: “It is great to see such passionate volunteers turn out to help improve their local environment and improve biodiversity in the area. We are so excited to see Woodoaks develop to become a haven for wildlife while making local, organic, sustainable food available to residents and fighting climate change. I am looking forward to visiting again soon.”

The hedgerow restorations are just one step in the plans the Soil Association has for Woodoaks Farm. They plan to restore and transform the farm and its land into a robust and regenerative system which supports a vast array of biodiversity and acts as a sustainable food hub to help connect local residents with the food they eat through producing local, organic, sustainable food.

For more information about Woodoaks Farm, visit

Council spokesperson

Cllr Phil Williams - Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability

Group spokespeople

Cllr Alex Hayward – Leader of the Conservative Group

Cllr Stephen Cox – Leader of the Labour Group

Cllr Joanna Clemens – Independent Councillors Group Joint Leader