BirdWatch Ireland, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations, the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland, the Irish Wildlife Trust and An Taisce will be staged a demonstration outside Leinster House on Thursday 2nd March 2017, in protest against the Heritage Bill which is being debated in the Seanad.
Section 8 of the Heritage Bill, if passed, would allow the ‘cutting, grubbing and otherwise destroying’ of hedgerows in August and burning in the uplands in March. Presently, the existing season for hedge-cutting and upland burning is from 1st September to the last day in February. The proposed legislation would give farmers and landowners an additional month for these activities but this will cut into the bird breeding season.
August is a time when our hedgerows are full of berries and other foods that birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife depend on. Of critical importance is that some bird species, such as the threatened and Red-listed Yellowhammer which nests in hedgerows, still have chicks in their nests at this time. During the month of March, upland-nesting birds like the Curlew, which is on the brink of extinction, are beginning to court mates and establish nesting sites.
The above organisations are alarmed that the Irish government is attempting to weaken the laws that protect breeding birds and other biodiversity on one hand, while on the other the ‘greenness’ of our agriculture is lauded. This hypocrisy must end. We need to support farmers who support nature.
Oonagh Duggan, speaking on behalf of the organisations above, said, “Over 26,000 people have signed a petition saying no to these changes. We ask Senators to listen to these voices and to reject Section 8 of the Heritage Bill on the basis that it ignores the science which says that it could seriously impact on nesting birds and could be the death knell for some species already in trouble. But it will also impact bees, which need all the help they can get, not Government-condoned habitat destruction. If this bill is passed it will send a clear message that Ireland is not serious about protecting its natural heritage for generations to come”.