Kilkenny hedgerows fit for birds and bees

Hedgerows an important habitat for wildlife and important in maintaining and improving biodiversity

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Catherine Keena, Countryside Management Specialist Teagasc; Prof Gerry Boyle, Teagasc, Minister Andrew Doyle and Francis Quigley, Teagasc Farm Machinery Specialist

Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2019 was officially launched today by Andrew Doyle, Minister of State at the Teagasc Kildalton Agriculture and Horticulture College in south Kilkenny.

During the week, Teagasc will hold events for machinery contractors and farmers, as well as engaging with other stakeholders with an interest in hedgerows, in order to highlight best practice in hedgerow maintenance which provides the ideal environment for birds and pollinators.

Minister Andrew Doyle launched Teagasc Hedgerow Week saying: “Hedgerows are important habitats for wildlife and play an important role in maintaining and improving the biodiversity in our countryside.  I am delighted to launch this initiative and urge all farmers and contractors to follow best practice when maintaining hedges.”

Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, Catherine Keena said: “We are asking contractors and farmers who are trimming hedges to shape the hedge to a triangular profile from a wider base to allow light at the base, leaving the peak at least 1.5 metres (5 foot) from ground level, or the top of the hedge bank, and allow occasional thorn saplings to grow up into individual trees.  This will create the ideal conditions for birds to nest, providing cover from predators above and below the nest, and providing flowers in summer for bees and other pollinators, and berries in autumn for birds and small mammals”. Catherine stressed ‘the quest for neatness and tidiness should not override ecological considerations’.

Francis Quigley, Machinery Specialist with Teagasc based at Kildalton, said; “We have met the contractor organisations, Farm Contractors Ireland (FCI) and PAC Ireland and they are very supportive of this initiative.  We also have the support of FTMTA (Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association).  On Wednesday of this week we are holding a Hedge Cutting Contractor Event at the Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, County Limerick, when we will have a working demonstration of hedge cutting taking place and a range of hedge cutting equipment will be on display.”

Teagasc Director Professor Gerry Boyle concluded saying: “Hedgerows give the Irish landscape its distinctive character and field pattern.  They provide important wildlife habitat for woodland flora and fauna, comprising invaluable networks for nature throughout the farmed landscape.  Increasing the variety of hedgerow types in terms of height, width and shape promotes diversity in flora and fauna.”

The hedgerow maintenance period runs from 1 September to the end of February.