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Take Action: Stop the (Anti) Heritage Slash and Burn Bill!

Posted by Young Friends of the Earth on November 08, 2016 at 10:52 AM

heritage bill

The 'slash and burn' or Heritage bill that Heather Humphreys TD is trying to introduce will come before the Seanad on Wednesday afternoon, 9th of November 2016. If passed, the bill would allow the Minister to extend the time during which landowners could cut hedgerows and burn scrub. It would allow for the burning of scrub in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August, which is currently not permitted. This is highly worrying as during these months birds are either preparing to build nests or are still nesting. As well as birds, these landscapes provide habitats for countless other species of plants and insects and contribute to healthy ecosystems. Many rare bird species in Ireland are in dire straits and to extend the time allowed for 'slash and burn' would put them in an even more precarious position in our ecosystem. Additionally, our hedgerows also provide important 'food' for bees, as well as being fantastic carbon sinks.

There will likely be amendments to the Bill tabled by the Seanad's Civil Engagement Group, but the success of these depends on the co - operation of other Senators.

So what can you do?

Firstly you can join the 23,000+ people here and sign the petition against the bill.

Then take a few minutes to write a short letter, email, tweet or facebook post to your senator and let them know what county you live in , maybe what you do, why the amendments to this bill concern you, and particularly implore them to remove section 8.

Here is a sample template, but please remember to:

1. Address the Senator by name

2. State where you are from

3. Add anything else to personalise it

Dear Senator _____,

I am writing to you in relation to the Heritage Bill, which will come before the Seanad this Wednesday. I am deeply concerned about Section 8 of this Bill which will seriously undermine the protection of our wildlife. As you know, Section 8 will facilitate the burning of upland vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August. I echo the concerns of Birdwatch Ireland that this could have very damaging consequences for our nesting birds, many of which are already under grave threat. I want my children to grow up in a country which is at least as green and natural as the country I grew up in, and I want them to be able to marvel at bird, plant and insect life. Unfortunately, our wildlife is under threat at home and around the world. The recently released 'Living Planet Report' warns that we are on track to lose up to 67% of wildlife globally by 2020, based on 1970 levels.

As well as providing homes to birds, hedgerows are part of our heritage. Many place names around Ireland derive from specific hedge row patterns and they are embedded in our folklore. They are essential for pollinators, which are worth €53 million to the Irish economy every year. Hedgerows plan an important role in the fight against climate change as natural carbon sinks, which take CO2 out of the atmosphere. Given Ireland’s recent ratification of the Paris Agreement, we should be doing more to protect and enhance our natural carbon sinks, not allow ing for their destruction. Finally, the Bill will not make our roads safer as Section 40 of the Wildlife Act already includes a provision to allow local authorities to cut hedges during the restricted months on safety grounds. I would like you to oppose this Bill as it stands and work with your colleagues to ensure that farmers and other landowners are properly incentivised to protect our natural heritage at this crucial time.

Kind Regards,

(your name)

You can find contact details of all Senators here, and remember to keep it short, and stress the importance of nature protection to you, your family, your community y, Irish agriculture and tourism, etc. This kind of action helped get the Fracking Bill over the line, so now let's make sure it helps protect our precious biodiversity.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

Young Friends of the Earth

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