Around this time each year, a sad sight is often to be seen along many of the small roads of Ireland. This is the sight of hedgerows which have been severely damaged by flail or other cutting equipment. Not only is it illegal to cut back our hedgerows before Sep 1 — unless for reasons of road safety or to allow access for building purposes — it jeopardises the lives of many of our species, plants, insects, mammals and birds.
The Wildlife (Amendment Act) 2000 clearly states that it is an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on Mar 1 and ending on Aug 31 in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
By destroying this habitat in mid-summer, many plants will not have had time to produce their seeds for next year’s growth. Often these are the food plants for many of our butterflies, moths and other insects and their lives will, in turn, be threatened and the habitat of our small birds will be destroyed. Our hedgerows provide corridors for wildlife and their removal is putting enormous stress on our biodiversity. These hedgerows provide food and shelter for birds, for butterflies and moths and their destruction causes a reduction in the numbers of plants.
I would call upon all those living in the countryside to defer the cutting of the hedgerows until it is legal to do so.
This is one ‘cut-back’ over which we have control.