Landowners across Donegal are being reminded that hedge-cutting season comes to an end on February 28.
Almost two-thirds of Ireland’s bird species nest in hedges and these hedgerows provide natural corridors that permit wildlife to move between habitats.
From the end of February until the end of August, hedge-cutting is not permitted under the Wildlife Acts which recognise the importance of conserving hedgerows and other vegetation for breeding birds, other animals and plants.
Public works involving the disturbance of hedgerows during this period may only be carried out for reasons of public health and safety.
“Hedgerows play an important role in supporting wildlife and contribute to the landscape character of County Donegal,” explained Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.
“Hedges and other wild vegetation provide food and shelter for insects, birds and other animals. Donegal County Council recognises the importance of maintaining hedgerows as part of wise conservation of our natural heritage, good farming practice and protecting County Donegal’s natural and picturesque beauty.
“In these challenging times for our biodiversity and natural heritage, and as custodians of our landscape, it is important that the closed season on hedge-cutting is observed.”
Hedgerows cover approximately 1.5% of the land area of Ireland and, based on a survey commissioned under the County Heritage Plan, there are 10,408 kilometres of hedgerows in County Donegal.
Common hedgerow species in County Donegal include ash, hawthorn, blackthorn, beech, eared willow, rusty willow, gorse, cotoneaster, fuchsia and privet.
The survey found that 7% of hedgerows are either remnant or derelict with a further 40% of hedgerows losing structure meaning that they are not in a favourable condition for fulfilling their role in providing wildlife habitats and stock–proof barriers.
If you would like to find out more about the wise management of hedgerows, The Heritage Council has produced a booklet with advice on best conservation practice and on planting native species.
Copies of the booklet entitled Conserving Hedgerows/Caomhnú Fálta are available free-of-charge from the County Donegal Heritage Office on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at: email@example.com. The Hedgerow Survey of County Donegal can be downloaded from the County Donegal Heritage Office website at: www.donegalcoco.ie/heritage