Stop hedge-cut­ting 13 days from now

Irish Examiner - Farming - - GENERAL FARMING -

Fe­bru­ary 28 is the last day for cut­ting hedgerows, un­til Septem­ber 1.

When hedge cut­ting, leave o n e ne w w h i t e t h o r n t r e e in ev­ery rou­tinely trimmed hedgerow, in line with the All-Ire­land P o l l i n a t o r P la n st ra t eg y to ad­dress the de­cline in bees. One-third of Irish bee species are threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion. Bees are de­clin­ing be­cause of a re­duc­tion in the wild­flow­ers from which the bees get pollen f o r p r o t e i n , a n d n ec ta r f o r car­bo­hy­drates.

There is also a lack of con­ti­nu­ity of flow­er­ing plants. Bees re­quire food all year round, re­quir­ing a di­ver­sity of flow­er­ing plants in the land­scape.

H e d g e r o w s a r e t h e mo st im­por­tant source of flow­ers in the Irish farmed land­scape, but are only of value to pol­li­na­tors if flow­ers are present. Rou­tinely trimmed hedgerows do not pro­duce flow­ers.

L e a v i n g oc ca s i on a l t h o rn trees to grow and ma­ture in rou­tinely trimmed hedgerows is a sim­ple way to pro­vide flow­ers for bees, and fruit for birds. Fa r m e r s w h o r e t a in t r ee s such as ash may not con­sider whitethorn as a po­ten­tial tree. We need this think­ing, for the sake of the bees.

Re­tain any sin­gle thorn stem from the hedgerow. Birds and bees do not mind if it is not per­fectly straight! Whitethorn trees are suit­able i n h e d g e r ow s , a s th e y a re rel­a­tively small at ma­tu­rity and do not cast shade, caus­ing gaps in hedgerows. Ev­ery lit­tle helps; you can make a dif­fer­ence!

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