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Cutting Hedgerows

Hedge Cutting

Hedgerows are important heritage features. They provide food and shelter for a range of wildlife, including birds, insects and wildflowers and are an important part of our landscape.

The Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000
This act gives some protection to wildlife in hedgerows. Under section 40 of the 1976 Wildlife Act, as amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2000, it is forbidden to cut or remove hedgerows or destroy other vegetation during the bird nesting season, from the 1st of March to the 31st of August each year.

Summary Guidelines for hedgerow trimming to benefit wildlife.

  • Trim hedgerows in rotation, so that some areas are always left uncut
  • Aim to trim a hedge every three years
  • Aim for a triangular 'A' shape and allow the top to grow as high as possible
  • Aim to trim in late winter (January/February) so that vital nuts and berries are available as food for wildlife in the autumn
  • Try to avoid spray drift and fertiliser from reaching the hedgerow - leave a 1.5m margin between crop or pasture and hedgerow
  • Leave some trees to grow to full height

(Adapted from Irish Hedgerows: Networks for Nature by David Hickie)

National Parks and Wildlife Service

If you require clarification on whether it is appropriate to cut hedges or verges, please contact the relevant conservation rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Sue Moles: 086-8370492

The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government have a designated sites information line.
Freephone 1800 40 50 00 from 9am to 5pm.

For a copy of 'Conserving Hedgerows' produced by the Heritage Council and Local Authority Heritage Officers, please contact the heritage office or Conserving Hedgerows PDF here (1.7mb PDF).

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, incorporating section 46 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000

  • It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
  • It shall be an offence for a person to cut grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply in relation to -

  • the destroying, in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry, of any vegetation growing on or in any hedge or ditch;
  • the cutting or grubbing of isolated bushes or clumps or gorse, furze or whin or the mowing of isolated growths or fern in the ordinary course of agriculture.
  • the cutting, grubbing or destroying of vegetation in the course of any works being duly carried out for reasons of public health or safety by a Minister or the Government or a body established or regulated by or under a statute.
  • the clearance of vegetation in the course of fisheries development works carried out by the Central Fisheries Board or a regional fisheries board in the exercise of its functions under the Fisheries Acts, 1959 to 1999;
  • the destroying of any noxious week to which the Noxious Weeds Act 1936, applies
  • the clearance of vegetation in the course of road or other construction works or in the development or preparation of sites on which any building or other structure in intended to be provided.
  • The removal or destruction of vegetation required by a notice served by the Minister under section 62(1) of the Act of 1946 to be removed or destroyed;