The Optimal Shelterbelts (OSBs) use and develop our national and historic degraded hedgerows. These exist only as thin ribbons of natural capital and biodiversity.
Shelterbelts move wind up as the trees convert wind energy into warmth and humidity. They’ll also stop wind from damaging crops, and provide a humid location for livestock.
Since 2020, we’ve planted 20 OSBs covering 10kms on 13 farms. We’ve planted them across the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Upper Thames basin.
The increase in agricultural productivity, biodiversity and natural capital will be measured on these sites. We’ll compare it to measurements in nearby areas and literature on crops improvement where measurements have been taken. We expect at least a 20% increase in crop productivity and biodiversity.
Every farm has at least one hedgerow that could be turned into an OSB. This could bring immense benefits to farming productivity and natural ecosystems. If all the farms in England planted on OSB (an average OSB is 500m), 176 million more trees would’ve been planted. One third of the Government’s woodland creation target.
Government grants currently don’t cover OSBs. We are lobbying DEFRA explaining the benefits of OSBs, but in the meantime OSB planting requires private donation. Please consider donating through this link: https://www.fwagsw.org.uk/