The Heritage Bill, due before the Seanad this week (21st February 2017 ) seems to have nothing at all to do with Heritage other than to extend the period landowners or County Councils can burn, cut, grub or otherwise erase the natural bit from the landscape. That natural bit is the bit our bees rely on.
This the part of the bill that will most affect us:
“…permit to the burning of vegetation in March, during such period or periods and in such areas of the State as the Minister may specify. Section 8 also provides for the amendment of section 40 to allow landowners or their agents to cut, grub or destroy vegetation in any hedge or ditch during August, subject to such Regulations as the Minister may make….”
I don’t need to tell you that the gorse (aka furze) is in bloom in March and our bees are all over it gathering vital early spring forage. If it is grubbed out and burnt at all, but especially in March, our bees, wild bees and other insects will all be deprived of a valuable early spring pollen source.
As for cutting, grubbing and burning in August – well I also don’t need to tell you that – although our honey crop may be in, our bees are busily working all the other flowers in the hedgerows for as long as the weather allows in their build up for winter. Blackberry, for one, can flower well into October.
Let’s not forget that the heather will bloom all the way through August and into September. Heather is defined as scrub too.
Hedgecutting usually means decapitating mature hawthorn trees so there will be no flowers for the bees on such victims for several years.
Then there’s other important bee trees – willow and hazel – otherwise known as scrub. We need all of this stuff!
Let’s not forget the ivy either!
This bill is due before the Seanad this week – 21st February 2017 -and beekeepers need to make their feelings known to their TDs, Senators and MEPs before it is all too late:
Here’s the section or the ‘Heritage’ Bill that will have most effect on bees, birds and other wildlife – vertebrate and invertebrate:
Section 7 sets out definitions relating to the wildlife primary legislation.
Section 8 provides for amendments to section 40 of the Wildlife Acts. The new provisions under section 8 give the Minister power by Regulations to permit to the burning of vegetation in March, during such period or periods and in such areas of the State as the Minister may specify. Section 8 also provides for the amendment of section 40 to allow landowners or their agents to cut, grub or destroy vegetation in any hedge or ditch during August, subject to such Regulations as the Minister may make.
Section 9 relates to updating references to Inland Fisheries Ireland and to current fisheries legislation.
Section 10 provides for clarification of the powers of authorised officers of the Department and An Garda Síochána under the Wildlife Acts.
Section 11 provides for the updating of penalties for offences under the Wildlife Acts and the introduction of fixed payment notices for certain offences.
The bill in its entirety can be viewed here: https://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2016/216/b216s-memo.pdf
Click here to sign a petition agains this bill
Click here for Birdwatch Ireland reaction to this bill
Click here for AnTaisce reaction
Click here for Bee Flowers in August
Click here for Bee Flowers in March
Click here for more about Gorse
Click here for more about heather
Click here for more about Willow
Click here for more about Hawthorn
Click here for more about Hazel
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4 thoughts on “Heritage Bill?”
I was devastated to learn about the recent heritage bill and still don’t understand the thinking which has brought this about except some form of gentrification without basic knowledge regarding the countryside and how it works and should work for all
The dogged, relentless progress of this Bill through the Dail is propelled mostly by the IFA who seem to be up behind it with a tractor.
As we know, the IFA is a very powerful lobby group who represent the interests of their members – the farmers of Ireland.
With the best will in the world you have to wonder why farmers should need more than the current six months of the year to cut hedges and grub out ‘scrub’ until you learn that farmers are compelled by the the Department of Agriculture to ensure that every square inch of their lands are in production or they, the Department, will deduct money from the farmers’ Basic payment.
In fact, so scrupulous are they in their demands that they now use satellite photography to survey farmland and calculate acreage not in production. I have it from a farmer friend that they will have tillage farmers remove a single tree from the middle of a field or deduct the acreage of shade that the tree is casting on the crop.
Not all farmers are rich – in fact most of them are not and the Basic payment is vital to their survival. Farmers say they cannot comply with the demands of the Department during the winter months because the land is too wet and the weather too vile. It has to be said – winters here can be very long and very wet and heavy machinery will compact and destroy soils in these conditions.
Another point worth note is that much of this grubbing and cutting of scrub and hedgerows is in direct conflict with the All Ireland Pollinator plan which the Department has signed up to support.
So I don’t know what the answer is except to lobby TD’s.
Excellent post. I have just heard Mr. Ring on the RTE radio 1 promoting this bill and I have written him an email trying to explain why it would be so detrimental for all our pollinators and much of our native biodiversity.
Thank you Karina and good work.
We also had a very successful demonstration today outside the Dail.
I’ll put some pictures up later.