Research project involving local school children plays a huge part in protecting biodiversity corridors

A project launched at the University which aims to bring awareness of sustainability and environmental issues, sees schoolchildren working with academics to research often forgotten, yet hugely valuable, hedgerows.

During lockdown in 2020, a group of young volunteers, who call themselves the ‘HedgeHunters,’ joined forces with researchers from the University of Hull to work on a research project mapping out the hedgerows around the East Riding of Yorkshire.

What started as co-creation to inform an artificial intelligence model to find where hedges in our area could be restored or replanted, soon turned into a youth-led project as the young HedgeHunters learnt more about the benefits of hedgerows. They were then successful in securing their own funding from the Green Mentor Scheme at the Ernest Cook Trust to author and share, for free, a Zine detailing the importance of hedgerows, and a children’s story book “The Mystery of the Giant Claw.”

The HedgeHunters had weekly sessions with researchers, to understand but also to question and investigate the importance of hedgerows, through a suite of creative initiatives.

Researcher in the Energy and Environment Institute and the School of Education, Katie Parsons, said: “Hedgerows are hugely beneficial to our environment, but they often go unnoticed which is what we’re aiming to change.

“The benefits of gapping up hedgerows instead of focusing trees is to improve landscape connectivity. Hedgerows are biodiversity corridors for numerous insects and animals, and they can contribute to carbon storage, reduce flood risk, and also produce edible fruit.

“We are thrilled with what the HedgeHunters have achieved and now other children and young people are invited to become a HedgeHunter too and learn about hedgerows and the landscape around them.”

After applying for funding from the Ernest Cook Trust, a grant was provided for the development of a book and it was recently launched at Walkington primary school. A hardback copy will be sent to every primary school in the area.

The profits from this book will be reinvested into crucial further research and similar youth-led projects involving children and young people within the University of Hull community and beyond.

Find out more about the book, titled ‘The Mystery of the Giant Claw, here.

For more information please email or call 07484 534322