France is to plant over 7,000km of hedges in the countryside by 2022 – with planting already starting in some areas.
President Macron committed to the measure during the One Planet Summit in January 2021, allocating €50 million to the project.
Independent planting already begun
In the Parc naturel regional de Lorraine, in the Grand Est region, volunteers, farmers and collectives have already started planting hedges independently.
Annual planting operations have been in place for seven years in the park, and in 2021 they expect to plant 12,500 hedges. This is equivalent to 10km of new plants - in this case local species such as wild rose, a robust plant which produces fruit for animals and insects to eat.
Hedges help biodiversity as they create “green corridors” in the countryside that provide shelter and food for numerous animals and insects.
Gardeners in France have previously been advised against cutting hedges in summer to help protect birds.
Countryside will look different
Hedges also benefit hikers and walkers as they are natural wind breaks and add interest to countryside landscapes.
Henri Poirson, vice president of the Parc naturel regional de Lorraine, told news source FranceInfo: “The countryside will change for all our walkers because we are planting near walking paths.
“Instead of having only hectares of planted fields, it’s a good idea to include trees and hedges in the middle of this scenery. It looks a bit sad without them.”
Many hedges were removed in the French countryside from the 1960s onwards in a bid to improve agricultural productivity.