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An Ecological Evaluation of Field Boundary Stone Walls in Ireland


The ecological values of field boundaries in Ireland are poorly understood and much of the currently accepted values are based on extrapolated data from detailed boundary research in the UK, France and elsewhere. Though these locations have similar ecological characteristics as Ireland and possibly a greater post-glacial biodiversity, it ought not to be concluded that Irish field boundaries have identical or even similar functions. Much of the data in Ireland relate to field boundary landscape characteristics and/or mis-management as opposed to ecological research based on field data. The limited research that has been carried out on hedgerows and field margins in the Irish Republic has, in general, revealed positive data in relation to specific taxonomic groups. It may be claimed, therefore, that though much emphasis has been placed on the value of hedgerows there are little data to support this. The data that are available for stone wall boundaries are even less developed than those for hedgerow boundaries. This could be because a stone wall might not viewed to be a 'living' habitat as a row of hedgerow trees often are. Research on the ecology of stone walls globally is very poor with much of the data relating to secondary sources (Dover et al. 2000). Two publications have been produced that deal solely with this area. Segal (1969) and later Darlington (1981) have produced seminal volumes on the ecology of urban walls and walls of old buildings within which both refer to field boundary walls but ecological references are few. In a trawl of the available literature it was found that no publications dealing exclusively with the ecological characteristics of field boundary stone walls, such as those that may be found throughout the Irish countryside, existed. This is surprising as boundary stone walls are recognised as a specialised habitat (Fossitt 2000). The aim of this research proposal is to redress the balance somewhat and will provide crucial baseline data that may affect current management practises in Ireland. This poster aims to highlight the lack of information in this area, propose basic research and to seek feedback from conference attendees in the form of photographs, opinions and the location of published and unpublished data.

Suggested citation:

. () An Ecological Evaluation of Field Boundary Stone Walls in Ireland [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 20th October 2019].


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