RGS students go wild for hedges

KEEN young environmentalists at Ripon Grammar School are highlighting the huge contribution hedges make in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

To mark the launch of the UK’s first National Hedgerow Week, students are planning a massive hedge planting scheme on the school’s 23-acre site.

The national event, which runs from May 29 to June 6, will be shining a light on these unsung heroes of the natural world and raise awareness of the threats they face.

“Natural hedgerows are the most effective and safe home for baby chicks and fledgling, who often fall from their high treetop nests,” said Year 8 student Edward Cassell.

“It is also a brilliant way to combat climate change, as each square foot of hedge will house multiple plants which all act as carbon sinks.”

Sixth former Funmi Sowole added: “The hedges planted at RGS will also help bring back biodiversity in coming years, which is a really exciting prospect.”

Following a challenging year of lockdowns and restrictions, pupils are enjoying reconnecting with nature while spending time outdoors together working on the project.

They will plant six wildlife-friendly hedges, made up of 3,000 hedgerow trees and shrubs, on the school’s 23-acre site, which includes several small, wooded areas and a dedicated wildlife plot

As well as creating a damson hedge and wildlife harvest border, they will plant hawthorn, beech, hazel, crab apple, dogwood and buckthorn and bird cherry.

History teacher David Bruce, who supports the school’s student-led Wild RGS eco-committee, said: “Our goals are environmental and educational: to promote the bio-diversity of the school site through the provision of much-needed wildlife habitat and corridors, but also to use the hedges to educate our young people and the wider Ripon community about the ecological and cultural value of hedgerows.”

In addition to campaigning for more recycling and less energy waste in school, the RGS Wild group has been busy planting fruit trees on the school site as part of the Tree Council’s Orchards for Schools programme.

For more information on National Hedgerow Week, visit www.treecouncil.org.uk