Our Disappearing Hedgerows

Hedgerows Ireland Petition TD’s to Act

Have you ever rambled along a country road smelling the blossoms from overhanging trees and then reached in to the hedge to pick a few juicy blackberries? Or perhaps stooped down to the tar and gathered acorns where their little caps have popped off revealing a perfect oval nut? If so, then perhaps you’ll be interested in efforts being taken to protect Irish hedges. This week we look at a recent protest spearheaded by Hedgerows Ireland to highlight frustration with the inadequate protections and incentives for Irish hedges. During the protest the group handed over a signed letter and petition calling on the Minister to make immediate changes but first…

Who are Hedgerows Ireland?

Hedgerows Ireland are a broad alliance of interested parties that work towards the enhancement and protection of hedgerows in Ireland. The group is made up of landowners, farmers, nature lovers and more. Their website can be found at https://hedgerowsireland.org/ The group believe that hedgerows are key to solving or improving many of the challenges facing our countryside. These include:

Owl Population Directly Related to Hedgerows

  • Carbon capture.
  • Habitat corridors for a very wide range of bird, animal and invertebrate species including many threatened ones. Seriously threatened populations such as those of our native bats and owl rely heavily on hedgerows for hunting and foraging opportunities. 
  • Flood and drought reduction, water filtration.
  • Shelter.
  • Beauty and landscape identity

What do they want more of?

In a nutshell Hedgerows Ireland want more for farmers. The group believe that farmers should be incentivised for maintaining, expanding and protecting good quality hedgerows – they believe this can be achieved through farm schemes and the group are critical that the recent changes to CAP and agricultural payments which did little to improve the situation.

During recent public consultations organised by the Department of Agriculture, Hedgerows Ireland recommended a scheme to ensure that all existing hedgerows would be retained and maintained with either side cutting only, or no cutting of internal/non roadside boundaries and that these should be cut no lower than 2m.

Furthermore they proposed and outlined results based payments for hedgerows using recognized measures of quality (height, width, species,  diversity  etc.) Results based payments are already being successfully used in Ireland in regional schemes organised by the likes of BurrenLife and the Bride project.

What do they want to stop?

The group (and signatories from other leading bodies) want Minister McConalogue to immediately reduce the current permissible 500 metre hedgerow removal limit pending the outcome of the promised review by the Department of Agriculture. At present it’s legal in Ireland to remove up to 500 metres of ancient hedgerow without any oversight. Many of these hedges denote the boundaries of townlands, of historic land holdings and indeed contained essential trees, shrubs and flora that were an essential part of rural life in centuries gone by.

Removal of Entire Hedgerows is Widespread

Hedgerow Ireland report that approximately 3000 km of hedgerows are being removed annually in Ireland and the group say that many of these hedges are centuries old and are part of our rich heritage. Furthermore the group spare no punches in their criticism of state bodies, especially County Councils for their part in facilitating the ongoing destruction. The group also point to research that proved that less than one third of remaining hedgerows are in good condition.

Presentation of Letter to the Minister

Signatories to the Letter

The letter to Minister McConalogue was drafted by Dr Alan Moore of Hedgerows Ireland and cosigned by representatives from notable and vocal advocates for biodiversity and rural improvement such as the Irish Countrywomen’s Association, Native Irish Honey Bee Society, Federation of Irish Beekeepers, Talamh Beo, Burrenlife Project, Bride Project, An Taisce, Bat Conservation Ireland, Munster Regional Trout Angling Council, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Mick Kelly, GIY Waterford, Irish Wildlife Trust and Woodlands of Ireland.

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Cities occupy approximately 3% of the Earth’s surface area but account for 60-80% percent of energy consumption and at least 70% of carbon emissions. Creating safe, resilient and sustainable cities is one of the top priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 11 defines sustainable cities as those that are dedicated to achieving green sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They enable opportunities for all through inclusive design and maintaining sustainable economic growth. Successful sustainable cities also minimise inputs of energy, water, and food, and reduce outputs of waste, heat, air pollution, and water pollution. Sustainable cities are the cities of the future – where did the concept of sustainable cities originate, what are some examples of sustainable cities and how can we incorporate some of these principles into our own towns and cities here in Ireland? What will it take to make a city like Monaghan more sustainable? Candice Moen takes a closer look.

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For Peat’s Sake


The recent move by Eamon Ryan to ban the harvesting of peat in Ireland caused an uproar. Peat has been used for heating and cooking in Ireland for centuries. Turbary rights, which are part of Ireland’s intangible cultural heritage, have meant that people living in homesteads in rural areas have inherited a right to cut and remove turf from specific plots of peatland linked to these dwelling houses. In more recent times, peat has been used commercially in horticulture and former peatlands have been used for afforestation and in agriculture. But, when we look at peat extraction, and the damage it is doing to what is left of our wetlands, against the backdrop of climate change, biodiversity loss and carbon sequestration, it is inescapably evident that extraction practices cannot continue. The growing impact of smoky fuels on human health also cannot be ignored.

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Nuclear Energy


Despite internal disagreement, the EU recently announced that it is proposing to classify energy from nuclear power as green. If a majority of member states back it, it will become EU law in 2023. Dermot McNally takes a look at the arguments involved and the effect this might might have on Ireland.

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River Basin Management Plan for Ireland


Ireland’s third River Basin Management Plan is currently under development and is open for public consultation. River Basin Management Plans are pivotal tools for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. The Water Framework Directive is European legislation that requires our rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal water to achieve a healthy state, or what’s known as ‘good ecological status’. Ireland’s first RBMP was published in 2009, the second was published in 2018, and the third RBMP due to cover the period 2022-2027 is in the process of being finalised. But what does all of this mean?

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It’s well understood that the ever increasing demand for goods and services is fueling climate breakdown. Yet despite this advertisers go to extreme expense to convince us to spend more and more. That’s why activists and campaigners of all kinds are heaping pressure on the advertising industry (and the biggest polluters) to clean up their act. Dermot McNally investigates.

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Climate Action Plan


Ireland has been described in recent years as a ‘climate laggard’ because of our country’s failure to meet commitments on EU greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Recently the Irish Government launched its new Climate Action Plan. It sets out how all of us in this country will play our part in the global effort to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C.Scientists say that warming above this level will increase the risk of climate chaos and significant suffering for humanity. Liam Murtagh sets out the key elements of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan and considers what is needed to ensure that the plan is implemented successfully.

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Conference on ‘Climate Justice: What Can We Do?’

MEG member Liam Murtagh went along recently to a conference on Climate Justice hosted by Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) and organised by the Drogheda based development education group ‘Development Perspectives’. While initially setting out the extent of the global challenges of climate change and climate justice and the lack of action to address them, the conference presenters went on to focus on some practical responses in the education field in Ireland.

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Climate Justice Begins at Home

MEG member Liam Murtagh went along recently to a special seminar entitled ‘Climate Justice begins at Home’ – an event held to coincide with the Mary Robinson Foundation’s international conference in Dublin, ‘Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice 2013’   The seminar was organised by Friends of the Earth and Food Sovereignty Ireland.    


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