Slash and burn policy will devastate wildlife in hedgerows
Our hard pressed wildlife is again under severe threat from interfering, ecologically oblivious politicians. Heritage Minister Humphries is committed to extending the period during which vegetation in the countryside can be cut and burned.
Currently there’s a ban on hedge cutting up to the end of August. There is an extremely good reason for this prohibition: Hedgerows offer shelter and sustenance and vital nesting sites to a range of bird species as well as playing a crucial role in flood defences in some regions
August is a month when wildlife desperately needs the refuge that hedgerows provide. Water flower species bloom in that month, feeding bees and butterfly pollinators. Birds continue to nest into September so that nests can easily be destroyed and the helpless chicks cruelly eviscerated as debris is hurled at them by the relentless hedge cutting machinery.
Burning of hedges inflicts horrific injury and death on the vulnerable birds at this time of year, with the charred or dismembered carcasses of Yellowhammers and other birds greeting walkers in many parts of Ireland where this practice is carried out illegally.
Yet, despite all the evidence of the impact of this insidious environmental vandalism, the Minister wants to press ahead with the Heritage Bill that would allow for hedgerow destruction at the most sensitive time for wildlife.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised, given that is the same minister who offered a spirited defence of live hare coursing last June when a Bill proposing its abolition was introduced in the Dail. Three month after that, her Department licensed the capture of thousands of hares for another season of a blood sport that is outlawed in many jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland.
Whether it’s the elegant visually stunning Yellow Hammer seeking refuge in our life giving hedgerows, or the gentle Irish hare renowned in song and folklore, Ireland’s multi faceted wildlife heritage doesn’t appear to matter when powerful vested interests are at stake.
Our wildlife is a precious resource that needs careful and enforceable protection, for the sake of the creatures that share this island with us, and for the sake of future generations of our people who may never get to see or appreciate it if the pro hare coursing/bulldozing/slash and burn politicians have their way!