With the introduction of modern farming methods and the pressure for higher crop yields, hedges and hedgerow trees are eliminated to create more rational field sizes. Such destruction reduces the amenity value of the countryside and eliminates valuable habitats for birds and insects which help destroy pests and pollinate crops.
When the Romans arrived, today's UK was already a hedged land; the only man-made thing older on the horizon is Stonehenge. Generations of Britons have kept on nurturing the ancient ones and adding new ones. The destruction of the hedgerows began only after World War II. Much of England in 1945 would have been instantly recognizable by Sir Thomas More in the early 16th century, and some areas would have been recognized by the Emperor Claudius, when he took part in the Roman invasion of Britain in A.D. 43.
Since the end of World War II till 1997, estimated 320,000 kilometres of hedgerows were destroyed in the UK. Just between 1985 and 1997, 184,000 kilometres of the roughly 640,000 kilometres of hedgerows that crisscrossed England and Wales have been ripped out and burned.