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22/02/2024 - Hedge-cutting season comes to an end



With 2024 being a leap year, landowners have an extra day to cut their hedgerows before the hedge-cutting season comes to an end on Thursday, February 29.  Almost two-thirds of Ireland’s bird species nest in hedges and these hedgerows provide natural corridors that permit wildlife to move between habitats.  From the end of February until the end of August, hedge-cutting is not permitted under the Wildlife Acts which recognise the importance of conserving hedgerows and other vegetation for breeding birds, other animals and plants.  Public works involving the disturbance of hedgerows during this period may only be carried out for reasons of public health and safety. 


“Hedgerows play an important role in supporting wildlife and contribute to the landscape character of County Donegal,” explained Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “Hedges and other wild vegetation provide food and shelter for insects, birds and other animals.  Donegal County Council recognises the importance of maintaining hedgerows as part of wise conservation of our natural heritage, good farming practice and protecting County Donegal’s natural and picturesque beauty.  In these challenging times for our biodiversity and natural heritage, and as custodians of our landscape, it is important that the closed season on hedge-cutting is observed.”


Hedgerows cover approximately 1.5% of the land area of Ireland and, based on a survey commissioned under the County Heritage Plan, there are 10,408 kilometres of hedgerows in County Donegal.  Some of the common native hedgerow species in County Donegal include ash, hawthorn, blackthorn, willow, rusty and gorse, whilst other non-native species of cotoneaster, fuchsia and privet were also recorded.  If you are keen to plant new hedgerows, go to the website to find a wealth of guidance on which species of hedgerow trees are good for wildlife and pollinators too such as hawthorn and blackthorn (see

The survey found that 7% of hedgerows are either remnant or derelict with a further 40% of hedgerows losing structure meaning that they are not in a favourable condition for fulfilling their role in providing wildlife habitats and stock–proof barriers.  Reports of unauthorised hedge-cutting should be made to the National Parks & Wildlife Service (see or the Gardaí who have statutory powers to enforce the Wildlife Acts.   


If you would like to find out more about the wise management of hedgerows, The Heritage Council has produced a booklet with advice on best conservation practice and on planting native species.  Copies of the booklets entitled Conserving Hedgerows/Caomhnú Fálta and Hedgerows for Pollinators are available free-of-charge from the County Donegal Heritage Office on (074) 917 2576 or by e-mail at:  [email protected].  The Hedgerow Survey of County Donegal can be downloaded from the County Donegal Heritage Office website at: