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On-going projects

Hedgerows: HedgeHunters assemble to help Map the Gaps

The HedgeHunters project was developed to support and inform its sister project Hedgerows: Mapping the Gaps, where researchers led by Josh Wolstenholme have developed a deep learning model and associated workflow capable of automatically identifying hedgerows and hedgerow gaps from aerial imagery across landscapes. However, since its conception the young people involved in the project have not only helped to create a successful and engaging citizen science app but have also led the way in wanting to educate future climate champions in the benefits of hedgerows


The UK Government has identified afforestation as a means of contributing to national CO2 reduction targets. The Committee on Climate Change has estimated the UK needs to plant 30,000 hectares of trees per year and extend hedges by 40% by 2050. This equates to approximately 50 million trees annually and an extra 100,000 miles of hedgerow by 2050. It is currently unclear where these trees and hedges will be planted, however it is likely that the majority will be through commercial forestry, requiring large swathes of land.

Across the north of England, thousands of kilometres of hedgerow are fragmented by gaps. One way to maximise the available area for afforestation would be to fill in the existing gaps in hedgerows. Currently, little research has been undertaken into the potential of hedgerow gaps for this purpose, in comparison with research conducted into planting trees. Crucially, hedgerow gaps present the opportunity for afforestation, without the need for extensive land change. As the government develops new post-Brexit policy on land management, there may be additional incentives for landowners to plant hedges and fill hedgerow gaps


Lead researchers

Katie Parsons

Project funded by

ferens-ed-trust-logo ECT_#iwill-RGB

Project partners


Ernest Cook Trust

The Ferens Education Trust

Our researchers have been working in partnership with the East Riding Voluntary Action Service (ERVAS) (link) and their Youth Green Influencers (aged 10 to 14) Green Influencers Scheme – The Ernest Cook Trust to co-create a citizen science project that would inform and refine the design and testing of the deep learning model in the Hedgerows: Mapping the Gaps project.

Alongside this the Youth Green Influences have also sourced their own funding, from Ernest Cook Trust to create a suite of aligned educational resources that will be available on a local and national scale for parents, young people and professionals to use to educate themselves and others about the importance of Hedgerows and why we should be protecting them.

The young people led on two projects, the first one was the development of an online ‘zine’ (short format magazine). The young people won £360 from Ernest Cook Trust to create and gift a copy of the ‘zine’ to every school in Hull and East Riding, as well as a copy being available online for all. 


The second project was to write and illustrate a children’s story book, with the help of researcher Katie Parsons, to use storytelling and empathy to engage readers in the problems that animals who reside in hedgerows face. The young people won £5,000 to develop, publish and gift a copy of “The Mystery of the Giant Claw” to all schools in Hull and East Riding.

The book is now available! If you would like to purchase the ebook, paperback or hardback edition they are all available via Amazon. The ebook only is available via the publisher's webpage.

The Impact

By working with young people, we have been able to understand directly how their motivation and attitude towards the natural environment has increased and developed overtime. We have also witnessed growth in their sense of agency in being able to make change and how the power of knowledge has given them a springboard to take action.


Other on-going research projects