For immediate release
Minister Coveney puts wildlife and agricultural sustainability at risk
10 July 2013: The Environmental Pillar, a coalition of 26 national environmental groups in Ireland, is strongly critical of Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney bringing forward the mowing date for the traditional hay meadow option within the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS).
AEOS pays farmers to delay mowing of traditionally managed hay meadows until 15 July to allow the diversity of plant species to set seed, ensure ground-nesting birds can fledge young, and provide nectar and food for a great diversity of insects.
The Minister stated today that his reason for permitting earlier cutting of meadows is due to the current good weather conditions for hay-making coupled with the fodder crisis earlier in the year.
'Whilst everyone has concerns about the fodder crisis experienced earlier in the year, it must be borne in mind that much of our farmland wildlife also suffered the cold spring,' said Dr. Copland, Environmental Pillar spokesperson. 'Many species of birds have nested later than usual and are still feeding young in the nest, and butterflies have been very late to take to the wing. These could be lost when the mowers move in.' Traditionally-managed hay meadows support many species of threatened wildlife, such as the Skylark or Small Blue Butterfly.
'The Minister is further weakening the already poor performance of Ireland's existing agri-environmental schemes,' said Dr. Copland. 'These are essential to the long term viability of the farming sector. If Irish agriculture is to be future-proofed, we need to protect the variety of living organisms and the associated benefits, including pollination, pest control and soil fertility.'
'The actions of the Minister in bringing forward the mowing date calls into question not just the legitimacy of agri-environment payments being made to farmers, but also the attitude of the Minister in honoring commitments in Food Harvest 2020 to sustainable agricultural production in Ireland,' continued Dr. Copland.
With continued substantial declines in farmland biodiversity, properly funded, targeted and operated agri-environment schemes, such as AEOS, are urgently required to deliver on their objectives and international requirements to conserve species and protect habitats. Research has shown that Ireland has a poor track record in delivering on biodiversity conservation through agri-environment schemes. The actions of the Minister seem unlikely to improve the situation.
Senior Conservation Officer, BirdWatch Ireland
Mobile: 086 123 3932
Notes to Editor:
The text of Minister Coveney's press release is provided here:
COVENEY LIFTS HAYMAKING RESTRICTIONS FOR AEOS PARTICIPANTS
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD today announced that for participants in AEOS 2 and AEOS 3 who selected the Traditional Hay Meadow action he is lifting the restriction of the July 15 cutting date for 2013 and scheme participants may commence cutting meadows for hay immediately. This easement will apply to all Traditional Hay Meadow with the exception of Corncrake hay meadows in the Shannon Callows. Where this earlier cutting date is availed of the conserving of the meadow as silage is not permitted and all other scheme requirements must continue to be respected.
The Minister said that the current weather conditions, which are ideal for hay making coupled with the fodder crisis experienced earlier in the year formed the basis for his decision.
End of Minister's press release
About the Environmental Pillar
The Environmental Pillar is a national social partner, comprising 26 national environmental organisations. It works to promote the protection and enhancement of the environment, together with the creation of a viable economy and a just society, without compromising the viability of the planet on which we live for current and future generations of all species and ecosystems. For more information, please see our website
Member Organisations of the Environmental Pillar:
An Taisce, Bat Conservation Ireland, BirdWatch Ireland, CELT (Centre for Environmental Living and Training), CoastWatch, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Crann, ECO-UNESCO, FEASTA, Forest Friends, Friends of the Earth, Global Action Plan (GAP Ireland), Gluaiseacht, Irish Doctors' Environmental Association (IDEA), Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT), , Hedge Laying Association of Ireland, Irish Natural Forestry Foundation (INFF), Irish Peatland Conservation Council, Irish Seal Sanctuary, Irish Seed Savers Association, Irish Whale & Dolphin Group, Sonairte, Sustainable Ireland Cooperative (Cultivate), The Organic Centre, VOICE, Zero Waste Alliance.