Survey of Townland Boundary Hedgerows

Survey of Townland Boundary Hedgerows

Preserving Kildare’s Heritage and Biodiversity: Protecting Townland Boundary Hedgerows in the Celbridge-Leixlip District.

Kildare County Council, in collaboration with Flynn Furey Environmental Consultants, will carry out a survey of the townland boundary hedgerows across the Municipal District of Celbridge/Leixlip from the 13th – 17th May, to help us better understand their unique significance.

Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants have been appointed by Kildare County Council to survey nineteen sample squares across the district. Each sample square is 1km2 in size. The total area to be surveyed is 13.11km2. The survey team will seek out landowners at the relevant sites to inform them of the survey, and to seek permission for accessing lands. Cooperation in granting access to the hedgerows on private land for this survey would be greatly appreciated. This survey is non-intrusive and consists simply of the identification and recording of the character, condition and range of species contained within hedgerows.

The ‘historic land units’ known as townlands have been the smallest administrative unit in Ireland since ancient times and the hedged boundaries of many of these, date back to at least the early medieval period. Within the Celbridge-Leixlip district, which comprises 53km², lie 69 distinct townlands with 92km of historic hedging outlining their edges, each brimming with cultural significance and biodiversity. A constant marker of the past, these hedgerows help to form the regional and local character of the area. Greater diversity in flora and fauna have been attributed to townland boundary hedges, providing valuable food and shelter for birds, insects, and other animals.

Over recent years, Heritage Officers from each Local Authority have been commissioning County-wide hedgerow surveys. The hedgerows of County Kildare were previously surveyed in 2022 with results published on the county council’s website:

Connectivity is an important consideration for these hedges with fragmentation threatening the species that use them as a haven. In 2023, preliminary desktop mapping studies for the whole of the Celbridge/Leixlip MD were conducted for this project; they found that 2.6km of hedgerow has been removed since 2013, which is a 0.26km removal rate per annum. This has been attributed to urbanisation with the increasing development of housing, roads, and other infrastructure. The municipal district of Celbridge-Leixlip contains highly urbanised areas which experience expansion due to these developments, thus, threatening townland boundary hedgerows. Over the coming weeks, the study will collect data that will ultimately provide key insights into Kildare’s valuable cultural heritage and biodiversity, which will help to inform decisions around the protection of these hedgerows. A report on the findings will be published later in the year.

Any queries in relation to this survey can be directed to Kildare County Council’s Biodiversity Officer, Méabh Boylan by email at