Press Release from HQ
22nd April 2009
Appeal to Land Managers to Save our Hedgerows
The Irish Wildlife Trust are highlighting the issue of illegal hedgerow cutting that typically starts around now and continues well into the summer months. Unless for reasons of health and safety this practice is in contravention of section 40 of the 1976 Wildlife Act, as amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2000, which prohibits hedge cutting from March 1st to August 31st each year.
Despite this, County Councils and land managers seems only to address the issue of hedge cutting during these months. Either they are unaware that they are breaking the law and causing tremendous environmental damage or simply don’t care.
Since Ireland was deforested in the middle ages the only natural features in many parts of the countryside are the hedgerows. Without them, as in much of the UK and mainland Europe, the landscape would be barren.The hedgerows support a wealth of species that once found home in the oak forests such as badgers, owls, hedgehogs, stoats, blackbirds and innumerable plants, butterflies and other insects. Not only are they an invaluable reserve for much of our wildlife they are important in providing pollinators, cleaning our air, defining our landscape, storing carbon and by holding back the flow of water off land they can alleviate flooding.
In spite of all these benefits, the Irish hedgerow is suffering ‘death by a thousand cuts’. They are frequently mismanaged, flayed to within an inch of their existence, or simply removed during the construction of one-off houses and replaced with invasive alien cherry laurel – a plant of no value to wildlife. Commented Padraic Fogarty - IWT Chairperson.
Minister Gormley has highlighted this issue to Local Authorities and has promised to prosecute those who have been shown to have broken the law. The IWT would like to support him in this commitment and we are currently undertaking a campaign to report all instances of hedge cutting between now and the end of August to his office, as well as the relevant Local Authority and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
We are appealing to the public to report such instances to us by logging onto www.iwt.ie or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org and sending the date, time and location of the hedge cutting incident to us and where possible a photograph and name of person or organisation involved. The future of Ireland’s hedgerows is in your hands.