The primary aim of this research is to identify and quantify hedgerows and hedgerow gaps in East Yorkshire, pinpointing specific locations where hedges could be restored or trees planted within hedgerow gaps. This could potentially expedite afforestation and atmospheric carbon reduction within the region.
The approach is highly scalable from the local to regional and national scales, especially when combined with the citizen science programme, encouraging community engagement and pro-environmental behaviours.
As well as capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, planting hedgerows is likely to benefit biodiversity and soil structure whilst also supporting natural flood management in the environment.
The interactive map will also provide key information for environment specialists and professionals to support strategic conservation of natural environments and habitat recovery/restoration.
This initiative aligns with the University’s vision for a fairer, brighter, carbon neutral future. By directly engaging young people in actively pursuing this vision it will help to open the horizons of youth participants, creating and empowering agents of change in combatting the climate crisis.
This project is testing the effectiveness of the deep learning model in identifying hedgerow gaps, whilst also educating and empowering citizen scientists and developing a robust data collection method.
Future work includes improving the accuracy of the deep learning model, enhancing the functionality of the web map interface and rolling out the model and citizen science programme across Yorkshire and nationally. We are investigating the potential to quantifying hedgerow health via satellite imagery to provide a service for more targeted hedgerow restoration to improve ecological connectivity. This will be developed in conjunction with the citizen science programme, with a view to identify the sites for restoration, categorise sites with a ‘priority group’, ground truth with citizen scientists and finally perform restoration activities with local communities.