My Department recognises the importance of hedgerows and woodland habitats and their roles in biodiversity, agricultural management and potential carbon sequestration. Hedgerows are estimated to cover 3.9% of the Irish landscape. The REPS and AEOS schemes facilitated the planting of approximately 10,000 km of new hedgerows and the rejuvenation of some 3,000 more. The total area of hedgerow and non forest woodland patches across the landscape could possibly represent a significant carbon sink and could potentially be used as a mitigation option.
Where tree cover extends to 0.1 ha or more and meets height and ground cover criteria, areas are classified as forest and come within the national carbon reporting system under the 2013 EU LULUCF Decision (Decision No 529/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities relating to land use, land-use change and forestry and on information concerning actions relating to those activities) and under the Kyoto Protocol.
At the moment there is no national inventory system to facilitate the accounting of hedgerow sinks under the Kyoto Protocol, and there is a lack of historic baseline data to be used as a reference period for calculating greenhouse gas changes over time. However the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) and Teagasc have concluded a climate change research programme
on carbon sequestration by hedgerows in the Irish landscape, using a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) remote sensing technology and terrestrial laser scanning for assessing hedgerow biomass. This technology can measure the physical characteristics of hedges and the work has concluded that a national inventory of hedgerows is technically feasible.
The content of this report and its recommendations will be considered by my Department in the context of the 2013 LULUCF decision.
Climate Change Research Programme (CCRP) 2007-2013, Report Series No. 32. Carbon Sequestration by Hedgerows in the Irish Landscape – Towards a National Hedgerow Biomass Inventory for the LULUCF Sector using LiDAR Remote Sensing.