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Hedgerow cutting banned from today as aerial surveillance is launched to crack down on ‘wildlife crime’


Minister Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan

Minister Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan

Minister Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan

Rangers from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will from today be using aerial technology to crack down on people committing ‘wildlife crime.’

The NPWS, in conjunction with gardaí, and the national fire service, will begin its aerial surveillance to monitor fires set along the west coast that are now spreading to counties Cork and Kerry “with  close surveillance on Killarney National Park” he said.

The surveillance coincides with the ban on burning land and cutting hedgerows that goes into effect from today until August 31.

“Today is March 1 and if you're already noticing more bird song in the air, it’s because nature is getting ready to spring into life all around us.

"That’s why, from today, the cutting of hedgerows and the burning of land is prohibited under the Wildlife Act,”  Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan said.

“Over the next few weeks and months, some of our most familiar and beloved birds and mammals – many of which are endangered – will be busy trying to find a mate and nest and rear their young, and it's essential that we give them the space and the time to have the best chance at breeding successfully,” the Green Party minister added.

“Whether they live here year round or cross the world to breed here as summer migrants, so many of our birds rely on our hedgerows and uplands to make their homes, hatch their young, provide food for those hungry mouths, and give them the shelter that keeps them safe from predators.”

However, he said there have been “ disturbing reports of fires being deliberately lit around the country, including in Kerry and my own constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny,” in recent days.

"While legal, these fires damage nature, worsen air pollution, impact people’s health, degrade watercourses and threaten the safety of people and property.”

“As of today, such fires are illegal, and those that intend to set them should be aware that all across the country, our National Parks and Wildlife Service has more rangers on the ground than ever before.

"We're also using new technologies, including aerial monitoring, to protect nature against wildlife crime,” he said.

Last year, the State secured 32 prosecutions for those caught breaching the Wildlife Act followed by two so far this year and 60 cases currently under investigation.

“This is in addition to consequences to landowners for eligibility under the Basic Payment Scheme through cross-compliance with the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.”

“We're in a biodiversity crisis and we all have a part to play in making space for nature to survive and thrive. I’m appealing to everyone to do your bit and play your part to help us protect our precious hedgerow and upland habitats, which provide such important refuge for nature at this crucial time of year.”

“If you see what you suspect to be a hedge-cutting or burning offence - report it to your local NPWS office,” he said.

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