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Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2020

Hedges give the Irish landscape its distinctive character and field pattern. They provide an important wildlife habitat especially for woodland flora and fauna. In addition to biodiversity hedges have many values including, food, cultural heritage and landscape. They have a role in carbon storage, regulating water flow and helping protect water quality.

The focus of Teagasc Hedgerow Week this year is on establishing new native hedges.

The focus of Teagasc Hedgerow Week this year is on establishing new native hedges. The current generation of Irish farmers have planted approximately 10,000 Kilometres of new hedges, making it the most significant planting in more than 200 years, according to Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist. 

Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2020, runs from today, Monday 7 December until Saturday 12 December. The week of activities was formally launched by Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity.

During the week, all aspects of hedges will be featured, including: their history and current extent; their values and best practice management for management practices of planting, cutting and rejuvenation.

The Teagasc Hedgerow Week starts today with the story of Irish hedgerows. John Feehan, retired lecturer in the faculty of agriculture in UCD outlines the history of Irish hedgerows; “Before the 17th century, it was a very different kind of farming over most of Ireland and there was a very different kind of landscape to go along with that. It was much more open, unenclosed, and animals had much greater freedom to roam. This was the case until the arrival of the agricultural revolution when farms were divided up into small enclosed fields. Hedges were a functional tool to enclose animals or to exclude them. Most of the internal hedges on farms would, very generally speaking, date between the beginnings of the early 1700 to the 1820 – 1830. In the early years particularly, it was achieved largely in responses to Acts of Parliament which compelled landowners to plant so many yards of hawthorn (whitethorn) every year.”  John’s article can be viewed at https://www.teagasc.ie/news--events/daily/ .

Catherine Keena hopes that Teagasc Hedgerow Week 2020 will sow the seed in the mind of farmers to establish new native Irish hedges over the coming years, resulting in the enhancement of their farms and the Irish countryside.

The full week’s activities, written articles and videos can be followed at www.teagasc.ie/hedgerowweek2020 and on the Teagasc social media channels, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.