No to More Slash and Burn (Heritage Bill 2016)

The Irish Wildlife Trust, Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce, the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland and the Federation of Irish Bee Keepers Associations are highlight that the proposed changes to Section 40 of the Wildlife Act contained in the Heritage Bill 2016 are unjustified and damaging to natural heritage.

News 02 July 2018:

The Heritage Bill is being debated in the Dail tomorrow and is on the agenda for the rest of the week. It looks like Minister Madigan wants to get it passed before the Dail breaks for summer this Friday. Now is the time to contact your local TD to let them know you don’t want this destructive bill passed.
If you are concerned about the damaging changes to our Wildlife Act proposed in this Bill please
Contact your local TD and let them know – find your TD here
We are asking you to email your local TDs to,
  • Highlight your concerns about this Bill’s impact on the Wildlife Act
  • Ask them to remove Section 7 and 8 from the Bill
For information on the Bill and the threats to wildlife it includes see this info sheet produced by our campaign partners BirdWatch Ireland.
Sections 7 & 8 of the Heritage Bill propose to change our wildlife law to;
  • allow the burning of our uplands in March
  • allow the cutting of our roadside hedgerow in August
  • give unregulated scope for landowners to cut roadside hedges for self-defined road safety issues throughout the whole of the Closed Period (March – August)
Our wildlife is under more pressure than ever and numerous animals that use hedgerows and uplands are in decline (such as bumblebees, curlew and yellowhammer). Our politicians should be doing their best to help prevent an extinction crisis in Ireland. Instead, our Minister for Heritage is focusing this week on passing a bill that actually removes protection for our hedgerows and uplands and weakens our Wildlife Act.
If you find this as worrying as us please contact your TD and let them know now –  find your TD here.


Issues with the Heritage Bill 2016 (changing Wildlife Act Section 40)

The Minister is proposing a two-year pilot law with a rollover clause, which would allow cutting, destroying and removal of hedgerows in August and burning in the uplands in March. During these month birds are trying to lay eggs and raise chicks and other wildlife such as bees and hedgehogs are still dependent on these ecosystems.

Strong data already exists showing that birds are nesting during August and March, however there is a severe lack of scientific data to suggest that these changes to the Wildlife Act would not have a disastrous effect on wildlife, including wild bees and threatened birds such as yellowhammer and curlew. Significant research over at least 3 years would be needed before the proposed changes can be safely made introduced.

In addition, a reason this Bill has been proposed is to allow for cutting of hedgerows in August for road safety reason but there already exists legal exemptions to the Wildlife Act to allow cutting where there are road safety issues.

In summary, the changes to the Wildlife Act proposed in the Part 3 Section 8 Heritage Bill 2016 are not supported by scientific data and do not improve the laws on road safety.  

Here is a link to our 31 reason why hedge-cutting in August is very bad idea.

TIPS for contacting Senators, TDs & Councillors

  • Keep your letter / email brief 2 to 3 paragraphs
  • Express your concerns about the Bill (eg no scientific basis or it is in contravention of Irish and EU plans for greening Irish agriculture and tourism etc)
  • Mention our petition representing over 30,000 other people’s concerns
  • Stress the ecological importance of hedgerows and uplands for species that are already under great stress
  • Why not finish on a positive note expressing that what is needed is a real heritage bill, backed up by good Irish data

Facts to Remember

  1. Section 40 of the Wildlife Act already includes provisions to allow local authorities to cut where there are road safety issues.
  2. Yellowhammer, Linnet and Greenfinch nest well into September and therefore hedgecutting could justifiably be restricted until mid-September.
  3. Curlew and other upland breeding birds will have begun their nesting activities in March and will therefore be impacted by these changes.
  4. Other wildlife which will be impacted include hedgehogs, bees, butterflies and other invertebrates which rely on hedgerow flowers for food.
  5. There are already 6 months of the year when landowners can cut hedgerows and burn vegetation. Adding one more month could push some Red-listed species over the edge towards extinction in Ireland (e.g. Yellowhammer, Curlew).
  6. Further research is needed into the effect on wildlife of burning uplands in March and cutting hedgerows in August before these changes can be safely put in place.