Britain must restore the lost hedgerows that form a “vital part of the landscape”, the Prince of Wales has said.
The Prince, speaking as he hosted a hedge laying competition to boost the traditional rural skill, said hedges are “essential” for wildlife and insects, including dormice and butterflies.
Britain has lost around half its hedgerows since the Second World War, with many of the remaining examples being left in a poor state of repair.
The Prince, who is Patron of the Hedgelaying Society, hosted a competition at his Highgrove Estate to foster the traditional skill, encouraging novices to and old hands alike.
In an interview with the BBC’s The One Show at the event, he said of hedges: “I’ve always felt they’re a vital part of the landscape.
“They also hold the soil together in many ways, prevent erosion, flooding and they link up woods, and copses, and I think it’s so important to replant and try to restore the landscape.
“They also provide essential biodiversity corridors for all the different insects and other creatures that live in them.”
He added: “It’s vital for dormice and butterflies and it’s the management of them which is what these marvellous hedge layers understand.”
The Prince and his sons have previously spoken about his personal enthusiasm for hedge-laying, which has seen him plant around 15 miles of the natural boundary on his Highgrove Estate.
His efforts, Prince Charles has said, leave him “looking as if I have just come off the field at Agincourt”.
Duke of Cambridge: Prince Charles ‘loves his hedge-laying’
In a documentary broadcast on the Prince’s 70th birthday, his younger son the Duke of Sussex said: “He takes his policeman hedge-laying. Some come back covered in blood because at some point something he has been cutting has flung up.
“Whichever policeman is on duty at the time puts the sledgehammer and axe in the boot of the car. Off they go. They spend two hours wrestling with bushes to try to lay a hedge because he hates fences. Full credit to him and his policeman.”
The Duke of Cambridge added: “They come back looking like they have been in a fight. He isn’t just a big voice standing up rattling the drum the whole time.
“There is genuine substance behind what he is talking about. He loves his hedge-laying.”
Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry are champions of conservation Credit: Tim Graham
The One Show will on Monday night see the Prince of Wales share his thoughts on the importance of hedgerows with viewers, in an attempt to win over those who may not have considered the benefits.
It was filmed on December 4, 2021 at an event hosted by the Prince, involving around 50 hedgelayers.
There are 11 different styles of hedgelaying in Britain, varying to take into account the area’s climate, farming practice and local flora and fauna.
Speaking at the event, the Prince told competitors: “I feel enormously proud.
“You’re all a remarkable lot if I may say so, and half the problem is to encourage more people to take this up.
“People often don’t realise in this country how important hedgelayers are and the unique and extraordinary features of them.”
In particular, the Prince is hoping to convince the public to plant “many more miles” of hedges as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign for the Platinum Jubilee.
He added: “I don’t need to tell you of the destruction that has been wrought over our hedgerows over the last 60 years.
“As a teenager I watched in horror as miles and miles of such a wonderful part of the British landscape was grubbed up in the name of agricultural progress.”
The Prince’s interview will be aired on The One Show on BBC One from 7pm.