Tasked with improving our hedgerows, collecting valuable habitat information and encouraging young people to take an interest in nature, The Long Forest is one of two natural heritage projects that will share close to £1million. It will span the length and breadth of the country – from Anglesey to Monmouthshire, Flintshire to Pembrokeshire.

Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, explains what he hopes funding more projects like these in Wales will achieve:

Coming hot on the heels of Wales Biodiversity Week these fantastic projects are looking to provide a better place for us to inhabit in Wales, by protecting our threatened species, plants and natural features and inviting people to join in with that process.”

When people think of what ‘heritage’ means, they often think of grand old buildings like castles and rolling estates. But Wales is lucky enough to also encompass some beautiful landscapes and natural environments that are home to rare and precious species. By funding natural heritage projects like The Long Forest, we hope more people will realise that looking after our landscape – perhaps starting in our very own back gardens – is just as important.

Traditional hedgerows are recognised as vital habitats for wildlife but their decline in recent years has threatened the existence of many of our well known native species, such as dormice, red squirrels and bats, who use the hedges for foraging and navigating. The Long Forest project, managed by Keep Wales Tidy and The Woodland Trust, will see 100,000 trees planted and around 120,000m of hedgerow improved; good news indeed for our furry and feathered friends.

Richard Phipps from Keep Wales Tidy explains why this project is so important:

An interconnected network of hedgerows shapes the character of much our cherished landscapes. However, they are an undervalued resource at severe risk from neglect, damage and removal – and it is now vital that action is taken.

Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we can also develop an innovative app that will help us improve the information we have about the current conditions of hedgerows in Wales by enabling people to survey and record hedgerows near them.