Suffolk: Launch of one of the largest hedgerow surveys undertake in the UK reveals importance of ash trees

A report of one of the largest hedgerow surveys ever undertaken in the UK has highlighted the importance of ash trees, now threatened by disease, to Suffolk.

David Barker MBE, chairman of Suffolk Creating the Greenest County and Guy Ackers, chairman of the Suffolk Hedgerow Survey, launched the report this week. The event celebrated 12 years of hard work and dedication in providing a snap shot in time about the status of over 38,000 of Suffolk’s hedgerows.

Around 2,400 volunteers have helped conduct the survey, resulting in a very detailed analysis of Suffolk hedgerows.

The purpose of the county-wide project, initiated by the Greenprint Forum, was to establish the exact location of hedgerows in the county and plot them on maps with records of the different hardwood species of trees and shrubs in each with specific details about the trees.

The survey documented veteran trees in the countryside, of which oak and ash were the most abundant. It has highlighted the importance of ash as a hedgerow species and will provide the community with a record before any impact of ash dieback is felt.

Councillor Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and property management said; “Today was a very important day for us as we reflect on the many years of hard work that have gone into this programme. Now that we know what hedgerows we have, their hardwood species content, age and structure we can use this information to help maintain, enhance and protect these important gems of our landscape. I’d like to express my gratitude to Guy and all the volunteers involved in recording this important information.”

David Barker MBE said: “This has been a remarkable survey of 317 Suffolk parishes and has revealed that over half of Suffolk’s hedgerows are species rich. Thanks to the commitment of Guy Ackers and his huge team of volunteers this survey, on a scale never seen in England before, has resulted in a Doomsday Book of the Suffolk’s hedgerows.”

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Andrew Cassy, chairman of the Greenprint Forum said: “Thanks to Guy’s inspiring efforts, an army of volunteers across the county took part in creating a document which will have a shelf life of at least 50 years and that is proving invaluable to planners, landowners, parish councils and environmental groups. None of this would have been possible without Guy’s commitment and his talent to recruit and enthuse volunteers.”