Carbon credits and blockchain technologies have the potential to offer significant benefits for hedgerow growth in rural areas across the world. Traditional locales like the UK have a long history of growing hedgerows, however, the implementation of the global hedge growth project could have far broader implications for the natural environment, rural employment and the natural environment.

Changing situation of hedgerows

Hedgerows in the United Kingdom have changed dramatically over the last century, largely for the worse. According to a study conducted by the Hedgerow and Boundary Research Group, the magnitude of hedgerows in the UK decreased by around 50% between the 1940s and the 1990s. This decline has been blamed on a variety of factors, including agricultural intensification and farmland conversion to other uses.

Furthermore, according to a research by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the length of hedgerows in the UK decreased by almost 5% between 1997 and 2007. This loss has been related to issues such as greater use of large scale field boundaries and hedgerow removal for development. These reductions have had a profound impact on biodiversity, affecting many species that rely on hedgerows for habitat and food sources.

Hedgerows are important for carbon sequestration, as well as providing habitat for wildlife and helping to prevent soil erosion. While the use of technology inside the industry has been limited there, there are limited examples of companies specifically using blockchain technology for hedgerow growth and carbon credits. However, there are several examples of companies and organisations using blockchain technology in the broader context of carbon credits and carbon offsetting with regards to agroforestry. Despite the potential of offsets being leveraged on the global markets, the sector has not fully exploited the gap in the hedge, pardon the pun.

In recent years, as the carbon credits industry has expanded in markets like the US and Europe, interested parties have tackled the issue in different ways. One way to address initial financial barriers is using carbon credits. Carbon credits are a way to incentivize carbon sequestration by providing a financial value to the carbon stored in hedgerows. This can be done through a variety of mechanisms, such as the sale of carbon offsets or the use of carbon trading systems.

Blockchain within the rural

Blockchain technology can also play a role in supporting hedgerow growth in rural areas. As blockchain is a distributed ledger system that allows for secure and transparent record-keeping of transactions the fear of double counting could be quite easily removed from the equation. The benefits of such technology is well known but can be useful for tracking and verifying carbon credits, as well as facilitating payments and other transactions related to carbon credits on international markets.

One potential application of combining carbon credits and blockchain technology is using smart contracts in the sale of credits from new hedgerow growth. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement written into code. Smart contracts can be used to automate the process of buying and selling carbon credits removing the labour costs traditionally involved, as well as providing a transparent and secure way to track the ownership and transfer of carbon credits.

Research suggest benefit overall

Research in recent years has shown the potential benefits of using blockchain technology for carbon credits. A study by the Carbon Trust (2018) found that blockchain technology can improve the transparency and accuracy of carbon offsetting, as well as reducing transaction costs and administrative burden. Another study by the World Wildlife Fund (2019) found that blockchain technology can help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of carbon markets, by providing a secure and transparent way to track carbon credits and other environmental assets. This is further strengthened by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) efforts in recent years (2021) with its grant of £81,561 to help develop the scheme.

“Many arable farms have old hedgerows which are no longer needed for their primary function of containing livestock, so there is little incentive to maintain them,” said Alastair. “But, if we can attach a value to them, through recognising their carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits and rewarding farmers for these, then we could incentivise further hedgerow restoration.”

Over the stile

“Developing a Hedgerow Carbon Code has huge national potential to enable farmers to increase the amount of carbon stored in their hedgerows and to trade those carbon credits,” said Dr Alastair Leake, director of The Allerton Project, to Viable Earth.

In addition, British research has shown that hedgerow growth can have a significant impact on carbon sequestration on a broader level. A study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, 2016) found that hedgerows can sequester up to 14.5 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year, and that hedgerow restoration can lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is while another study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH, 2017) found that the carbon sequestration potential of hedgerows is comparable to that of other land use options such as afforestation and grassland restoration.

Looking forward, combining carbon credits and blockchain technologies has the potential to offer significant benefits for hedgerow growth in rural areas across the globe, creating new forms of employment. The experience of the UK in reviving the ancient technology for the 21st century has now given other countries a blueprint to develop their own carbon credit codes which can be of significant benefit to local rural communities.

How the UK could lead in hedgerows

In the UK, the Hedgerow Carbon Code is a voluntary certification programme that encourages farmers to plant and maintain hedgerows for carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and soil health. To replicate this programme in the US, a coalition of government agencies, non-profit organisations, and agricultural industry groups could develop and promote a similar voluntary certification programme.

This programme could include guidelines for the establishment and management of hedgerows, as well as incentives for farmers who take part, such as financial payments or cost-sharing for planting and maintenance. In addition, the programme could be promoted to consumers through the labelling or branding of products grown on farms that participate in the programme, like how organic or sustainably grown products are promoted.


  1. Hedgerow and Boundary Research Group, “Hedgerow and Boundary Survey: A National Survey of Hedgerow and Boundary Lengths in the United Kingdom” (1997) Link: Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the link for this specific report, but you can find more information about the research group and other hedgerow-related research on the University of Bristol website
  2. UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), “Hedgerow Survey 2007” (2008) Link:
  3. Carbon Trust. (2018). Blockchain for carbon offsetting. Retrieved from
  4. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. (2017). Hedgerow carbon sequestration: A literature review. Retrieved from
  5. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. (2016). Hedgerows and carbon sequestration. Retrieved from
  6. Hedgerow Carbon Code: Good news for UK agriculture, climate change and British wildlife. (2022).,government’s%20new%20Sustainable%20Farming%20Incentive.
  7. Carbon Trade Exchange. (n.d.). About CTX. Retrieved from
  8. Carbon Conscious. (n.d.). Carbon Conscious blockchain. Retrieved from
  9. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (n.d.). Carbon Market at the UNFCCC. Retrieved from

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