Understanding hedges better is the theme for the Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2021 which takes place from 3 – 10 December. Pippa Hackett, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, stressed the importance of Ireland’s network of hedges at the launch of an exciting programme of online events. Minister Hackett said; “I am delighted to launch hedgerow week, a week full of valuable information, promoting the value of hedgerows and the ecosystem services they provide.”
Teagasc Director, Professor Frank O’Mara welcomed the involvement of a wide range of organisations and interested stakeholder who were delighted to be involved in addressing this important issue, resulting in a topic of interest to many. Hedges provide a tangible link between town and country, evoking a sense of place, giving character to farms, townlands, parishes and counties, making them distinct from other areas.
The value of Ireland’s network of hedgerows were discussed on the Teagasc Signpost webinar, today, Friday, 3 December which was delivered by Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist. Catherine spoke about the subject of planting hedges, which is currently being undertaken by farmers in REAP, the NPWS Farm Plan scheme and many EIPs. In the near future it is expected that farmers will be planting hedges under the next Rural Development Programme, and by many wishing to improve their farms for biodiversity, climate change with the addition of stockproof hedges as valuable assets on their farms – a positive contribution to their farming legacy.
A competition will be launched for farmers to send photos of recently planted hedges and one lucky participant will receive a roll of compostable film for weed control in newly planted hedges from Maizetech.
There will be a Hedgerow Week webinar each morning next week, from Monday to Friday, 6th to 10th December from 9.30 – 10.30 where Catherine Keena, along with a panel of experts and interested stakeholders, addressing questions raised by participants.
On Monday, 6 December, the state of Ireland’s hedgerows, both quantity and quality, will be addressed by a panel including research, county councils and hedgerow non-governmental organisations.
The panel on Tuesday, 7 December will address the biodiversity of hedges including how birds, bats, bees, butterflies and other wildlife use hedges including ecological experts and the All Ireland Pollinator Plan.
On Wednesday, 8 December Francis Quigley, Teagasc Machinery Specialist will be involved in a discussion on hedgerow management with a panel of people with an interest in hedge cutting: including FCI hedge cutting contractor, Padraic O’Brien, farmer organisations and the NPWS.
Thursday, 9 December will focus on food from hedges, with a panel of foraging experts from research to private enterprise.
Teagasc Hedgerow Week will conclude with the Signpost webinar on Friday, 10 December where the topic will be the value of native provenance trees and hedging stock and how to reduce health risks to them with Joe Gowran, CEO Woodlands of Ireland and Maria Cullen, Chair of the Society of Irish Plant Pathologists (SIPP).
Whatever inspires people to take an interest in Ireland’s hedges, Catherine Keena hopes that Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2021 will help to ensure this generation leaves a positive legacy for farms, the Irish countryside and the environment.
The full week’s activities, written articles and videos can be followed at www.teagasc.ie/hedgerowweek2021 and on Teagasc Daily and the Teagasc social media channels, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.