Galway City Council want to notify all landowners, farmers and gardeners in Galway City that hedge-cutting is strictly prohibited until September 1 to protect wildlife during bird nesting and breeding season.
Hedgerows are magnificent habitats creating sanctuary for up to 35 bird species who regularly nest there. Some Irish favourites likes the robin, wren, blackbird and song thrush all nest in hedges, and in Galway City there are extensive networks of hedges and dry stone walls.
The Galway City Council Environmental Awareness Officer said the hedges support a rich tapestry of life such as birds, butterflies, bees, insects and approximately 100 plant species and they help in the fight against climate change by breathing in and storing Green House gases. They are used as transport corridors for barn owls and bats and are an essential addition to the biological diversity in Galway City, so we do really need to protect them.”
Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended by Section 46 of the 2000 Amendment Act, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August. Exemptions usually pertain to roadside hedge cutting for road safety purposes.
According to a recent investigation by the Journal.ie, the National Park and Wildlife Service brought 88 successful prosecutions between 2007 and 2020 for illegal hedge cutting or removal. Fines, costs and donations to charities totalling just under €58,000 were paid by the guilty parties. In one case in Westmeath in 2020, two guilty individuals were ordered to make a contribution of €5,000 to a bird conservation project.
“Ireland’s biodiversity contributes approximately €2.6 billion each year to the Irish economy through ecosystem services such as water or air quality, soil fertility or pollination services. With tree cover in Ireland the lowest in Europe, coupled with the Biodiversity loss crisis; hedgerows are playing an increasingly vital role in protecting our environment and the species which we all know and love such as the bumble bee, robin and barn owl.”
To report the illegal cutting or removal of vegetation, contact Galway City Council on 091-536400 or email [email protected] or the National Parks and Wildlife Service on (01 ) 888 3200 and give as much detail as possible.
For information on Galway City Council’s Biodiversity Action plan 2014-2024 visit www.galwaybiodiversity.com