Volunteers Restore Blenheim Estate Historic Hedgerow

A team of volunteers is helping to re-plant an ancient hedgerow as part of a wildlife conservation project in Bladon.

The project is a joint initiative between Blenheim Estate, who own the land, the Conservation Volunteers and the Woodland Trust.

Once completed, the hedgerow will comprise of nearly 1,500 individual native tree and shrub species including rowan, bird cherry, hazel, crab apple, goat willow, blackthorn, hawthorn, dogwood and dog rose.

Villagers Jeannie Donald-McKim, her husband Jules, and Lisa Holland are leading the community project.

“It was planned as a community project to bring all groups and generations in the village together to work on a healthy, outdoor activity that would nurture relationships and seed friendships, and might inspire future ideas on how to address the climate and ecological emergency in practical constructive ways locally,” said Jeannie.

“Unfortunately, this was scuppered by the recent lockdowns, but on a smaller scale in November we had groups of several families and neighbours out planting, and this new year we have had several friends and neighbours volunteering to plant by themselves.

“People in the village have been very excited to be part of the project, and it is a real shame that we were unable to have the group plantings we planned. Hopefully there will be similar opportunities in the future – there is plenty of room for more hedges!” she added.

The Conservation Volunteers provided 950 of the saplings with Blenheim Estate and the Woodland Trust each donating 210, the remaining 105 were a birthday present for Jeannie from her husband Jules.

The team estimate the hedgerow will take up to three years to become established and will provide a vital ‘wildlife corridor’.

Up to 80 per cent of British birds, 50 per cent of small mammals and 30 per cent of butterflies live in or on hedges and since the end of WWII the total number of hedges and hedgerows in the UK has halved.

As well as forming a new wildlife habitat, the hedgerow planting project is also seen as a great way for people to get outside, be close to nature and be part of a positive conservation initiative.

“It’s amazing to think we’re part of something that will hopefully grow and flourish and provide food and shelter for wildlife for generations to come,” said Jeannie.

At Blenheim Estate Land we know that our land is precious and finite, but cared for properly its benefits can be limitless. Yet today there are fresh challenges like climate change, an aging population and increasing urbanisation.

So our approach – spanning a number of projects – needs to be as sophisticated, enduring and holistic as those issues we face.

By adopting new methods of valuing our natural capital we can view our land resources as part of an ecosystem. An ecosystem whose benefits extend to the air we all breathe, the green transport solutions that connect our communities, the physical and mental health we enjoy, and the quality of the food we consume.

At the pinnacle of our ambitions is the goal to become the first estate to demonstrate carbon-negative land management.

Ultimately, these projects form part of Blenheim’s Strategic Purpose; to be the lifeblood of the local economy, to enhance the lives of local people, and to share and protect this place.

At Blenheim Estate we believe the bounty from our land is more than the annual harvest, it’s the fundamental source of continued prosperity, renewal and wellbeing. Always growing our legacy.

Blenheim

We are a diverse business focused on conserving and restoring our World Heritage Site. We aspire to be the lifeblood of the local economy through charitable giving.

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