Farmers and hedgerows

Credit where credit is due

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – Further to the letter on farmers and hedgerows (April 9th), farmers take enormous pride in tending to what traditionally would be regarded as a “well-kept farm”, and maintained hedges are regarded as central to that. There was an old saying that “good fences make for good neighbours” and that “good shelter was free feed”. To that end, 50,000 Irish farmers have sown and continue to plant thousands of kilometres of hedgerows annually as part of the Acres environment schemes. Farmers trim and tidy hedgerows only as permitted by law, in the closed growing season to protect nesting birds. A hedgerow unpruned will grow upwards and will lose bush density and cease to act as a livestock control mechanism. It will also, with brambles, etc, spread outwards into fields and roads causing hazard and reduced production. Pruning back hedgerows causes them to grow new branches close to the ground that thickens it and maintains its stock control and shelter function.

This is also why county councils trim hedgerows for reasons of visibility and safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

I appreciate that there is also a contested ecological argument for not cutting hedgerows and maintaining them as a carbon sink, but some credit might be given to farmers for managing their private property in a traditional manner. These hedges will soon be resplendent in fresh new growth, nesting birds, wild flowers and a hive of activity with buzzing insects. – Yours, etc,

TOMÁS FINN,

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Ballinasloe,

Co Galway.