Jan 18

“No to More Slash and Burn!” Campaign Launch

The Irish Wildlife Trust, Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Hedge Laying  Association of Ireland have come together to launch a petition to persuade the Government to reverse its decision to makes changes to Section 40 of the Wildlife Act, which will allow for the burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August.

We challenge this decision by the Minister on the grounds of the serious impact it will have on a range of wildlife species and habitats in Ireland – especially highly-threatened nesting birds and pollinators found in our hedgerows and uplands. The Bill to facilitate these changes is going to be fast-tracked through the Oireachtas prior to the forthcoming General Election. We ask you to join us in our campaign to persuade the Government to reverse this decision before the Heritage Bill 2016, is passed through the Oireachtas, and to show your support for the wildlife that don’t have a voice. If we do nothing, we risk losing yet more of our natural heritage here in Ireland. 

Sign our petition at: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/no-to-more-slash-and-burn

Our hedgerows are a vital refuge for many native wildlife species in a landscape with little native woodland compared to other countries. Hedgerows provide food, shelter, nesting sites, habitat corridors and are an essential component for flood defenses, preventing soil erosion and the silting of rivers as well as carbon sequestration.Ourhedgerows and upland habitats need proper management, though. Landowners and farmers must be supported to manage them in a way that works for farming, road safety and wildlife. Under existing rules, landowners have six months between September and February to manage hedgerows and uplands effectively and there is provision for hedgecutting for safety on our roads. Therefore, this decision is unwarranted, will cause a significant blow to already threatened wildlife species and goes against advice submitted by Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce and the Irish Wildlife Trust.  

The change to the hedge-cutting dates will lead to further declines in populations of Red-listed[1] Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch birdsand reduce essential food supplies for pollinators, of which a third are threatened with extinction.

Irish Wildlife Trust Development Officer Lorraine Bull says “This decision will cause a significant blow to already vulnerable Irish wildlife and goes against scientific advise, which is why our organisations have come together to persuade the Government to reconsider. If this Government is interested in the future of our natural environment and the ability for it to provide us with essential ecosystem services, it must reverse this ill-judged decision. If we do nothing, we risk losing yet more species here in Ireland, so we are asking people to join us and support “No To More Slash and Burn”.”

For further information, please see:

Irish Wildlife Trust’s Press Release 23/12/2014: Nature and landscape loses out again as Minister Heather Humpreys announces extension of burning and hedge-cutting season. https://www.iwt.ie/minister-heather-humpreys-announces-extension-of-burning-and-hedge-cutting-season

An Taisce’s Press Release 23/12/2014: Minister Humphreys gives an early Christmas present to the IFA as Ireland’s wildlife once again takes the hit.  http://www.antaisce.org/articles/minister-humphreys-gives-an-early-christmas-present-to-the-ifa-as-ireland%E2%80%99s-wildlife-once

BirdWatch Ireland January 2016 Change in dates for burning and hedge-cutting defy logic. http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/OurWork/PolicyAdvocacyanoverview/Agricultureforestry/HedgecuttingUplandburningLegalchanges/tabid/1439/Default.aspx

Hedge Laying Association of Ireland Press Release 08/01/2016 Unqualified IFA statements on changes to hedge cutting dates are irresponsible says Hedge Laying Association of Ireland. http://www.hedgelaying.ie

[1]Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland (2014) http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/OurWork/SpeciesHabitatConservationinIreland/BirdsofConservationConcern/tabid/178/Default.aspx

Photograph: © Shay Connolly, courtesy of Birdwatch Ireland.