The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is reminding the public that the cutting, grubbing, burning or other destruction of any vegetation growing in a hedge or ditch is prohibited between 1 March and 31 August.

The prohibition is contained in section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 and suspected breaches are investigated by the NPWS and An Garda Síochána.

The NPWS took 31 section 40 prosecution cases in 2021 and the service says it “hopes that fewer will be necessary this year”.


An NPWS spokesperson said that Ireland’s “relatively low cover of native woodland makes our hedgerows exceptionally important for biodiversity”.

“Hedgerows provide botanical diversity as well as food and shelter for animals, most notably birds.

“They also act as corridors connecting habitats. Untrimmed, thorny hedges are favoured by birds, but birds may nest in any hedge.”


Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 does not apply in a number of circumstances, including the destruction, in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry, of any vegetation growing on or in any hedge or ditch, the summertime trimming of hedges in the ordinary course of gardening and the clearance of vegetation in the course of road or other construction works.

It also applies for the development or preparation of sites on which any building or other structure is intended to be provided and the felling, cutting, lopping, trimming or removal of a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation which is seen as a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road.


The NPWS encouraged members of the public to report what they suspect to be a hedge-cutting offences to their local NPWS office or local Garda station.

“Since enforcement staff might not be able to respond immediately, you should take a note of the date and time, and note any vehicle registration numbers involved.”

They encouraged the public to take photographs, especially of vehicle number plates, when possible.

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