14,000 people back wildlife petition and say no more ‘slash and burn’.

                                                                                                                                                                       February 1st 2016

Over 14,400 people have signed a petition to stop proposed changes to the time of year farmers are allowed to cut hedgerows and burn scrub.  IWT

Environmentalists say that the decision by Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD is not based on science and will have a serious impact on a range of wildlife species in Ireland.

The changes being proposed are to allow the burning of vegetation in BirdWatch_Ireland-200x150March and the cutting of hedgerows in August. Allowing this will impact highly threatened nesting birds and pollinators that live in our hedgerows and uplands.

The campaign has been put together by four environmental NGOs – the Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland, and the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland.

They are calling for the establishment of a proper hedgerow and uplandantaisce management regime that words for farming, road safety and wildlife.

Siobhán Egan, Head of Policy, Communications & People Engagement at BirdWatch Ireland stated that: “The extension of burning and hedge cutting dates flies in the face of what we know about wild birds in Ireland and in the UK. The new dates proposed for both cutting and burning include times of the year when birds and other wildlife are actively seeking breeding territories or actively rearing young.”

She continued: “The changes are also in conflict with what is happening in FINAL-HLAI-LOGO-copyother countries where burning in drier times of the year is not encouraged.”

The amendment to the Wildlife Act has been included in the proposed Heritage Bill. It had been feared it would be fast tracked through the Dáil before the election but it seems to be delayed.

“This has been a flawed process from the start. It is time for this section
of the Heritage Bill to be scrapped and all parties get together around the
table and discuss Sustainable Hedgerow Management with a clean slate,” said Neil Foulkes spokesperson for the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland.

The backdrop to this campaign is a significant decline in several species which are now of Conservation Concern including the Red-listed Curlew, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipit. Breeding Curlew have experienced an almost 80% decline in the last 40 years.

The change to the hedge-cutting dates will lead to further declines in populations of Red-listed Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch birds and reduce essential food supplies for pollinators, of which a third are threatened with extinction.

Click here to sign the petition
About the Author

Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.