Leaving hedgerows unmanaged on farms could almost double the amount of carbon they sequester, new research has found.

Using data from the National Farm Survey, the study found the quantity of carbon accumulated on farms by hedgerows is equivalent on average to 7%, 13% and 43% of dairy, beef and arable farm emissions, respectively.

Not managing hedgerows could almost double these values, it found.

In addition, by doubling the area of unmanaged hedgerows on farms, the carbon sequestered would then be equivalent to 26%, 52% and 172% of dairy, beef and arable farm emissions, respectively.


“Adapting management to increase the width and height of hedgerows, along with planting new hedgerows, offers the most potential for climate regulation in hedgerows.

“This analysis highlights that hedgerows can be an important carbon store, and the retention and planting of new hedgerows has important mitigation potential at farm scale,” the study said.

The research was conducted by Teagasc on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It also found that biomass is in decline among the country’s 700,000km of hedgerows and therefore, hedgerow carbon stock is in decline in tandem.