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To protect the environment we must prevent moorland wildfires

[Without controlled heather burning you get environmentally devastating wildfires]

Controlled heather burning is being talked about a lot at the moment. Partly because 1 October marked the start of the new burning season, but, more importantly, because there has never been greater urgency in the need to protect our environment and nature from the impact of climate change and carbon release.

Put simply, in order to protect the environment and wildlife we must prevent wildfires. To do this we must continue to use controlled heather burning.

[Wide range of species recorded on moorland in the Peak District]

To many, the concept of setting light to our heather moorland would seem counterintuitive to protecting our environment. Having smoke spreading across our moorland doesn’t look good to the untrained eye, no matter how limited it is.

However the benefits of controlled heather burning, both on the environment and the local economy, are huge and it is little surprise grouse moors remain a haven for wildlife and biodiversity.

[Highlights of Channel 4's recent investigation into controlled heather burning]

In the words of our Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, ‘the rotational burning used to manage our heather moorland may seem odd to some, but without it our moors would not regenerate and support the rich wildlife and biodiversity they do’.

[Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Yorkshire constituency of Richmond]

The burning season takes place over the winter months where the moors are wet. Controlled heather burning, as outlined in this video, does not dry out any peat and some science suggests it enables increased levels of carbon to be captured.

By contrast, wildfires which tend to occur in spring and summer when the peat is dry. This leads to peat catching fire and vast amounts of carbon being released in the air. Take Saddleworth fire in 2018 for instance when the RSPB managed moor set fire after the long heather and dry scrub caught ablaze releasing over 100,000 tonnes of carbon into the air.

Another advocate of controlled burning, Claire Belcher, associate professor in earth system science at Exeter University, said leaving heather to grow on the moors provided fuel for any fire to quickly take hold.

She said: "We don't think of the UK as having a flammable ecosystem, but actually heather and gorse have a lot of oils in them that mean they burn very hot and radiate that heat into the peat below. Controlled burning does far less damage to habitats to fires on this scale."

It is time for the anti-grouse shooting activists like Luke Steele (a convicted criminal), Mark Avery, the BBC’s Chris Packham and much of the management of the RSPB to put the good of the environment and the safety and livelihoods of the local moorland communities first for once.

[The activists going to any length to get grouse shooting banned, no matter what the consequences to the environment or the local communities)

Fortunately the political tide they are swimming against is becoming increasingly strong and the government have said they base their decisions on science, not angry activists on Twitter often with warped leftist agendas disguised as something else.


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