Cutting, burning, or destruction of hedges is restricted during nesting and breeding season between the 1st March and the 31st August, in order to protect nesting birds except for certain exemptions. (Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife Amendment Act 2000).
These restrictions apply not only to private land-users but also to local authorities, public bodies and to contractors.
In Ireland, hedges are of exceptional importance as habitats, particularly for birds but also for wild flowers, shrubs and trees and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and enhance the diversity of nature in our countryside.
Who should I report instances of hedgecutting between the 1st March and the 31st August?
Tree Preservation Orders and Tree Felling licences
These are the two main measures for the protection of trees in Ireland.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are a planning mechanism whereby individual trees or groups of trees can be identified as important and protected by a TPO.
Tree Felling licences are obtained through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – Forestry Section. Licences must be obtained for felling trees greater than 10 years old outside an urban area. Under Section 37 of the Forestry Act, 1946, it is illegal to uproot any tree over 10 years old, or to cut down any tree of any age(including trees which form part of a hedgerow), unless a Felling Notice has been lodged at the Garda Station nearest to the trees at least 21 days before felling commences.
The requirements for a felling licence don’t apply where:
- The tree is a hazel, plum, damson, pear, or cherry tree grown for the value of its fruit or any ozier (willows grown for their rods);
- The tree is less than 100 feet from a dwelling other than a wall or temporary structure;
- The tree is standing in a County or other Borough or an urban district (that is within the boundaries of a town council, or city council area);
- Other exceptions apply in the case of local authority road construction, road safety and electricity supply operations.