Just Forests calls for measures to halt destruction of Ireland's unique hedgerows.
15th March 2010
2010 has been declared the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) by the United Nations – the year that celebrates the diversity of life on Earth, including every plant, animal and micro-organism. We are now three months into the IYB and here in Ireland the destruction of our wildlife corridors, namely hedgerows, continues unabated in the name of ‘progress’. Here in Offaly, from Rhode to Moneygall, the on-going removal of hedgerows is continuing at an alarming rate.
On Saturday 13th March 2010, I was appalled to see over 100 meters of ancient and biologically rich hedgerow destroyed outside Tullamore. I say destroyed but that word does not come close to describing the state the hedge row was reduced to-it was actually annihilated. This most recent incident, opposite Woodie’s on the Tullamore-Geashill Road is a reflection of what is happening not just county-wide here in Offaly but also nation-wide.
Whoever removed it didn’t even have the decency to cut it with a chainsaw. No, it was just beaten beyond recognition by some heavy-duty machines. It is all the more disturbing as this happened during Ireland’s ‘National Tree Week’-a nationwide event run annually by The Tree Council of Ireland to help us all to appreciate our native trees and associated biodiversity.
The war being waged against nature must stop. Our hedgerows and their associated biodiversity play a significant role in the prevention of flooding and the management of floodplains. Trees, hedges, “scrubland” and mixed woodlands significantly reduce sediment run off. The same eco-systems can hold and recycle more water than grazing or croplands. Trees, particularly native hardwoods, absorb water by draining it from the surface via their root systems. Recent research results shows that introducing woodland cover would reduce flows by 50%.
The main objectives of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 (relative to hedgerows) are to:
‘strengthen the provisions relating to the cutting of hedgerows during the critical bird-nesting period and include a requirement that hedgerows may only be cut during that period by public bodies, including local authorities, for reasons of public health or safety’.
The removal of over 100 meters of hedgerow opposite Woodie’s on the Tullamore-Geashill Road during ‘National Tree Week- 2010’ had nothing to do with ‘... public health or safety’.
Each year, about 90 million new people join the human race. This is roughly equivalent to adding three Canadas or another Mexico to the world annually, a rate of growth that will swell human numbers from today's 6.2 billion to about 8.5 billion by 2025. Biodiversity is the backbone of our economic, social and environmental existence and Ireland must do more to appreciate the role of biodiversity in our lives.
A formal complaint has been lodged with Offaly County Council and the Garda Station at Tullamore. The un-necessary removal of hedgerows and “scrubland” must be halted, and those that have been removed un-necessarily reinstated.