UK dairy farmers call on the nation to become wildlife landlords
In the midst of the UK’s declining wildlife habitats, hedgerows, the UK’s biggest dairy cooperative, Arla, is educating and rallying the nation to support its farmers in tackling the issue, by becoming wildlife landlords.
Research from Arla found that 64% of Brits are unaware that a typical hedgerow can support over 2,000 different plant and animal species and over a third (35%) are not aware we have lost many hedgerows in the last 80 years. Findings from the UK’s biggest dairy co-op also reveal that 85% of Brits say they believe that protecting the environment and the UK’s wildlife is important yet 43% are unsure how they can make an impact and almost a third (32%) claim they don’t have the time and over a quarter (25%) claim they don’t have the to do anything about it.
Hedgerows are natural wildlife corridors made up of shrubs and trees and are essential for wildlife to thrive - but over half have been lost since WW2ii. The UK’s loss of hedgerows, typically found on farms, has been identified as a key factor in the decline of many plant and animal species across the nation, but most Brits are unaware of the key role they play. Alongside protecting wildlife, hedgerows can also be hugely valuable thanks to their stability, undisturbed soils, diversity, and seedbanksiii which is why they should be maintained, protected, and nurtured wherever possible.
Arla farmer, Oliver Williams, says: “Hedgerows benefit all small species, especially hedgehogs, which is why I take great care in ensuring they are protected and nurtured at all costs. On my farm, I’ve recently established a new area of woodland to grow new hedges and nurture existing hedgerows, helping to create natural breaks in the countryside and small populated habitats for our small and prickly friends. Protecting the environment is so important, and there are many ways you can, even if you aren’t a farmer!”
To tackle the decline of our natural habitats, Arla and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species have joined forces to help more people create their own wildlife friendly gardens and green spaces.
Rachel Campbell, director of the Arla Brand & Sustainability says: “We’re excited to partner with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species to help educate the nation and highlight the importance of protecting the UK’s hedgerows. Our farmers who are choosing to maintain and plant new hedgerows to act as wildlife corridors for Britain's declining species are doing a brilliant job, but it’s a journey that we as a nation, should all be collectively looking ahead to.
“Protecting hedgerows is just one possible action that sits under the Ecosystem element of our Arla C.A.R.E programme - an industry leading standards programme for milk production that covers key areas where farmers can make a real difference to the world around us.”
You don’t need to be a farmer or own acres of land to become a landlord to a diverse population of wildlife, which is why Arla has teamed up with the PTES to inspire more people to replicate some of the actions being taken on farms in their own gardens or local outside areas.
Megan Gimber, Key Habitats Officer, at People’s Trust for Endangered Species, says: “Hedgerows are essential habitat and wildlife corridors for thousands of species across the countryside. When managed well, they offer one of the biggest and most connected resources we have for nature. The harmonious combination of trees, flowering scrub and grassy margin creates a habitat more than the sum of its parts, enabling the hedgerows to house, feed and shelter an enormous proportion of our native wildlife. Healthy hedgerows have the potential to benefit wildlife and the environment, whilst still being a valuable asset for farms. As an individual, there are simple actions you can take to mimic the biodiversity of hedges in your own back garden and turn your green space into a wildlife haven.”
Many Arla C.A.R.E farmers take great responsibility for the care and maintenance of Britain’s hedgerows and approximately 2,200 acres of land owned by Arla farmers is left fallow for wildlife to flourish - equivalent to nearly 900 rugby pitches. As part of the Arla C.A.RE programme, farmers are also encouraged to take active steps to improve biodiversity and the provision of wildlife habitats. These steps include installing and managing wildlife corridors, hedgerow maintenance and installation, and creating other habitats such as hedgehog highways and barn owl boxes.
For more information on Arla’s C.A.R.E programme and to see how you can act, visit: Wildlife havens | Arla UK (arlafoods.co.uk)
Notes to editors
 Arla Hedgerow Survey 2023, Focal Data of 2,011 respondents