Hedgerows in County Monaghan – A Decade of Change

A recent survey of hedgerows in County Monaghan has found that only 12% of hedges are in favourable condition.  The survey, undertaken for the Monaghan County Council Heritage Officer and co-funded by The Heritage Council, was outlined today 6th December at the Teagasc Hedgerow Week webinar by Shirley Clerkin, Heritage Officer.

The survey is a re-survey of sites that were first examined in 2010.  Since 2010, almost 11km of hedges have been removed from the sample squares.  This means that 0.9% of hedges in Monaghan may be removed annually, far more than the EPA estimate of 0.3%.  75% of the removals are attributable to agriculture.

Species diversity has declined since 2010, with 30 species recorded overall in 2021, five less species than in 2010.

In 2010, 37% of hedges were considered to be species rich. This has declined to 23%.

The main tree species at 70% is ash, and of trees examined 90% displayed evidence of ash dieback.

Adjacent land use has become more intensive.  In 2010, 28% of adjacent land was semi-natural grassland.  This has halved to 14%.

“Urgent action is required for our hedgerow resource.  The report sets out sobering results for County Monaghan.  All stakeholders must act now to do what they can to improve the future for our hedges, in recognition of their supporting role for a healthy and resilient countryside.” – stated Shirley Clerkin, Heritage Officer.  At the Teagasc Hedgerow week webinar, she highlighted the need for a results based payments scheme for farmers that included quality result indicators for hedges as a potential way forward.

The survey work was undertaken by Flynn Furney using the Hedgerow Appraisal System.  The survey is part of the implementation of the Monaghan Biodiversity and Heritage Strategic Plan, and was funded by the Heritage Council and Monaghan County Council.

Monaghan Hedgerow Report 2021 (PDF)