The RSPB's call to report burning is "unnecessary and deliberately controversial"
Last week, the Yorkshire Post and other titled reported that the RSPB was urging its members to report incidences of heather burning, suggesting that they use their new burning reporting app to share data and information.
Encouraging the public to report every incident of burning is not only irresponsible, as many will mistakenly report incidences to the fire brigade and waste the emergency services' time, but also – as Mark Cunliffe-Lister of the Swinton Estate described it, "unnecessary, deliberately controversial and likely to provoke further abuse of gamekeepers."
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, he said:
"It is not true to say that controlled vegetation burning is a major source of emissions from areas with peaty soils. The Government’s own statistics show that less than three per cent of emissions from peatland are from controlled vegetation burning.
"By contrast 86 per cent of peatland emissions are from lowland peat which is used for agriculture. The peat itself is not affected by the fire as only the tops of the vegetation are burnt, with the fire being quickly extinguished. Ongoing monitoring suggests that a controlled fire offers long term benefits for carbon storage and biodiversity.
"Controlled heather burning through the winter seeks to mitigate uncontrolled wildfires in the summer that do burn the peat. Without vegetation management the severity of a summer wildfire – such as at Saddleworth, Winter Hill and Marsden Moor – is significantly increased, resulting in a devastated landscape and catastrophic CO2 emissions."
This may not be news to our readers, but it begs the question why the RSPB are still continuing this spiteful and entirely misleading campaign. Would they rather see moors burnt to a cinder in the summer months, releasing huge amounts of carbon and killing everything in their wake, than the excess brash burnt away and fire breaks created? There appears to be no logic to the RSPB's approach, simply a desperation to attack the grouse shooting community, with no regard for the damage their actions will undoubtedly cause.