Agroforestry has many different forms and benefits. Some traditional forms of agroforestry are long-standing in Wales, but now the interest and its development in all forms is growing. Coed Cadw – the Woodland Trust in Wales - recognises that farmers and agroforestry are a significant part of the solution in addressing the climate and nature crisis. We’ve been working with farmers and encouraging the Welsh government to make a more traditional form of agroforestry, the 'Hedges and Edges' approach, part of the forthcoming sustainable farming scheme.

What is Hedges and Edges?

This term refers to tree canopy cover provided by hedgerows and hedgerow trees, river margins and shelterbelts to protect livestock and productive land. Trees and native vegetation are planted or encouraged to naturally regenerate alongside boundary features, such as walls, banks and field edges, or anywhere freshwater collects, like ditches, gullies, ravines, streams, ponds and rivers.

A deliberate and targeted intervention, Hedges and Edges will help to reduce the impacts of extreme weather and begin to reverse decades of nature’s collapse. Managed to an agreed standard, it will:

  • assist agricultural sustainability
  • improve animal welfare and food sovereignty
  • reduce floods and soil loss
  • protect and increase carbon stores
  • contribute to restoring freshwater quality
  • help to reverse biodiversity loss and increase wildlife.

This more traditional form of Welsh agroforestry was reinvigorated and inspired by the farming initiative of Pontbren.

Will Evans, farmer, agricultural journalist and Oxford Farming Conference director:

“I am so encouraged by Coed Cadw’s proposed Hedges and Edges scheme. It isn’t radical, it doesn’t need large scale changes to our practices, it’s just about funding the repair and enhancement of what’s already there – and crucially, they have consulted with farmers.” 

Abi Reader, NFU Cymru deputy president:

“It’s vital that future farming schemes fairly reward us to increase tree cover. More hedgerows, shelterbelts and streamside corridors alongside food production, as in Hedges and Edges, could be readily adopted.”

A sustainable farming scheme to tackle the climate and ecological emergency

Immediate and sustained action from all sectors is required to reduce the current rate of climate emissions and to afford greater protection of wildlife here in the UK. Farmers and agroforestry are a significant part of the solution to address the climate and nature crisis in Wales. 

80%
of land in Wales
is used for agriculture
180,000
hectares of new tree cover to create by 2050
to reach Wales’s net zero targets set out by the UK Climate Change Commission
<4%
of agricultural land implementing agroforestry
could deliver around half of Wales’ recommended tree cover targets

Farmers are currently paid according to the amount of land that’s available to produce food. But this system for all accidentally devalued nature and the sustainability role of native trees on farms. A new sustainable farming scheme needs to be adopted. It needs to significantly reverse biodiversity loss and establish new wildlife habitats while protecting and reconnecting nature.

Hedges and Edges is an inclusive and accessible way to do this. To help meet Wales’ recommended tree cover targets, we propose Hedges and Edges as a universally available part of the new Welsh sustainable farming scheme when it is introduced in 2025.

Iolo Williams, naturalist and TV and radio presenter:

“You’ll struggle to find a better farm payment idea than Hedges and Edges. Correctly targeted it can be the foundation of new wildlife connections, assisting nature’s recovery; part of the urgent climate action that everyone in Wales needs.” 

Show your support for Hedges and Edges

Encourage the adoption of Hedges and Edges in Wales by contacting your Members of the Senedd. Ask them to support Hedges and Edges by subscribing to the cross-party Statement of Opinion. Remember to include the link to the statement.

Learn more about the vital role of trees in addressing the nature and climate crisis in our Manifesto for the 2021 Welsh Parliament elections.

Geraint Davies, upland farmer and Natural Resources Wales board member:

“I’m urging Members of the Senedd to support Coed Cadw’s Hedges and Edges proposal. Increased quality hedges deliver multiple benefits to working farms. They secure boundaries, improve biosecurity, farm productivity and deliver for nature.” 

Plant trees on your land

If you could plant hedges and edges on your land, explore our subsidised tree planting schemes.