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What Bob Berzins says vs reality: The fantasist Moorland Monitor's 22 lies in a single presentation



Bob Berzin, the activist and serial fantasist from the Peak District, has been up to his normal tricks again. This time writing a diatribe of falsehoods and attention seeking puff for Ruth Tingay’s RPUK blog.


The level of falsehoods that Berzins and his organistion the Moorland Monitors like to portray against traditional moorland management, in order to pursue its narrow misconstrued agenda against grouse shooting, is nauseating and enormously detrimental to any environmental collaboration.


Berzin’s lies in recent years have been part of the reason there has been widespread harassment of gamekeepers and their families, particularly in the Peak District, including cameras being placed on gamekeeper’s homes, children of gamekeepers being harassed at school and widespread vandalism of traps across the moors.


It is why the Countryside Alliance launched a petition against the funding of his organisation, the Moorland Monitors, and why it has been described as ‘an extremist saboteur organisation’.


Of course the normal suspects will rally around Berzins’ latest nonsense saying it is all a conspiracy from the moorland communities against them. Only, it is not, is it Bob. For anyone – and that includes Paul V Irving, Stephen Dick, and the rest of the Moorland Monitors – who still think they are anything but an extreme activist group spreading lies against gamekeepers and encouraging harassment, we thought we would take the opportunity to show you the difference between Bob’s world of fantasy and lies and proven science and facts.


In February this year Bob Berzins gave a presentation to the Sheffield Green Party on grouse shooting and moorland management.



We have taken the time to go through this presentation word by word and demonstrate the difference between ‘What Bob Says’ and ‘What Science and Facts actually say’.


The lies start right from the beginning of his Zoom presentation. After a brief introduction Berzins shows a slide of some heather moorland close to Sheffield.


1. BOB’S 1st LIE: 1mins, 52secs –

WHAT BOB SAYS: “So, a familiar scene to all of us, people love walking over these kinds of areas but in terms of biodiversity it’s quite poor because we’ve got lots of heather and nothing else and it’s not very good for carbon storage either because the heather plants dry out the peat soil underneath, that oxidises and we get CO2 released.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre score: 8/10


What science and facts actually say –

There certainly isn’t “nothing else” as a measure of biodiversity in comparison to other habitats demonstrates.


Heather-dominated moorland supports groups or ‘communities’ of plants growing together that are either only found in the UK, or are found more abundantly here than elsewhere in the world. These communities are different to those found under other land uses such as commercial forestry, so grouse moor management helps increase overall biodiversity in the uplands. They include species of berry, grass, sedge and mosses such as Sphagnum, which together define habitats that are listed under the EU’s Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Flora and Fauna Directive.


Although invertebrate diversity tends to be relatively low when compared with other habitats, rare species are associated with moorland, including moths, bees, butterflies, various money spider

species, craneflies, and ground beetles.


For example, the bilberry or mountain bumblebee is only found in bilberry-rich moorlands with heather, which provides nectar late in the summer and protection from the weather. Butterflies and moths tend to be more diverse and abundant on moorland areas when heather is older, compared to recently burnt areas.


The moorland environment also supports a collection of birds (an “assemblage”), which contains many species of European or international importance, for example red grouse, golden plover, curlew, lapwing and short eared owl. Although not their sole habitat, many of these species are found in greater numbers and may breed more successfully on managed grouse moors.






2. BOB’S 2nd LIE: 2mins, 8secs -

What Bob Says: “Trees will naturally regenerate in these moorland situations”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre score: 6/10


What science and facts actually say –

In some circumstances Berzins is correct on this in that there are some areas where trees would naturally revert. However, for Berzins, to suggest that this would happen everywhere is untrue. In the majority of cases, if left, most would areas would revert to rank vegetation, bringing little biodiversity but a huge wildfire risk.




3. BOB’S 3rd LIE: 2mins, 34secs –

What Bob Says: “Peat is almost pure carbon, so in the Peak District we have a carbon store of millions and millions of tonnes”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre score: 7/10


What the science and facts actually say –

Carbon content of peat is high, but to say that it is almost pure carbon is bonkers. The best analysis suggests a figure of around 25% is accurate. That said, it remains crucial in our battle against climate change to keep that carbon locked down in our peat soils which is why wildfires are so devastating and reinforces the need for moorland management to protect it.




4. BOB’S 4th LIE: 3mins:01secs –

What Bob says: "If you look at a photo of [a moorland stream] you can see it is very brown where the peat is being lost."


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre score: 7/10


What the science and facts actually say –

Damage to peatlands results in brown water, but there is no evidence that peat is being lost. Streams that drain pristine peatlands are also brown. This reinforces the need for proper moorland management practices, as seen across grouse moors but rarely across unmanaged moors, to avoid damaging peatland.




5. BOB’S 5th LIE: 7mins:55secs

What Bob says: "Biodiversity, well the reason for doing this burning really is to get lots of heather to grow back here and nothing much else."


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 10/10


What the science and facts actually say:

Burning vegetation on UK moorlands is part of routine management for red grouse, but its contribution to peatland degradation is widely debated. In a moor managed for grouse, areas that had been burned between the winters of 2008/09 and 2014/15 were revisited in 2019 to look at how the vegetation responded compared to areas that were not burnt. Sphagnum cover in plots burnt eight to ten years earlier was, on average, five times higher than areas that were not burnt. Prescribed burning at regular intervals can increase Sphagnum cover by reducing heather cover and other vegetation. Prescribed burning can also reduce the risk of wildfire by removing the amount of fuel available and providing fire breaks.



[Results from Peak District bird survey showing increasing trends]



6. BOB’S 6th LIE: 8mins,04secs:

What Bob’s says: “It takes a variable amount of time for the vegetation to re-grow [following a controlled burn] but something like at least three years.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 8/10


What the science and facts actually say:

What does “vegetation to re-grow” actually mean? Start to grow? Probably less than three years. Get back to its original height? That’s the point. Some bird species, particularly Golden Plover like to nest in the recently burn patches so the biodiversity is far more complex than Bob tries to suggests.



7. BOB’S 7th LIE: 8mins, 44 secs:

What Bob says: “Adders are locally extinct on the grouse shooting moors and we only see them in one small area near Owler Bar where no shooting takes place.”

Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 9/10


What the science and facts actually say:

The adder population Derbyshire is considered stable (unlike many other places). And they are doing well in the Peak District National Park, hence the reasons so many dog walkers are warned to look out for the adders, as advertised here in the local media.





8. BOB’S 8th LIE: 10min:04sec

What Bob says, [with regards to medicated grit]: “the difference up on these moors is that there’s no regulation, no effective regulation, no oversight.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 7/10


What the science and facts actually say:

“You can only use it with a vets prescription. All vets are fully regulated.”





9. BOB’S 9th LIE: 11mins,13sec:

What Bob says: “The rust coloured heather there has been killed off by a bug called heather beetle. This does particularly well in hot, dry summers. So if we have those biodiverse and wet moorlands, basically heather beetle will not have chance to take hold like this and it won’t spread.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 7/10


What the science and facts actually say:

There is simply not enough evidence about what causes heather beetle attacks. Bob seems transfixed on a narrative that grouse moor managers want to dry out their moors when the opposite is true and they are busy rewetting them.





10. BOB’S 10th LIE: 11mins, 51 secs:

What Bob says: “So how do the gamekeepers do all this intensive management? It’s usually just a couple of game keepers on a very large estate. They spend all their time driving around in vehicles; they use a quad-bike, they also use six wheel terrain vehicles and these can go pretty much anywhere including through very wet areas of sphagnum moss. So we pay millions of pounds to get this sphagnum moss to grow on our moors.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: Unable to rate due to contradictory madness of claim.


What the Science and Facts actually say:

We would have even more sphagnum moss across the uplands if more controlled burning took place, as outlined here. Bob also faces a large contradiction here. If the ‘trees recover’ and there is the widespread ‘rewilding’ this would reduce the sphagnum moss growth because it would reduce the light coming through.







11. BOB’S 11th LIE: 12mins, 21 secs:

What Bob says: These vehicles drive repeatedly over an area then the surface vegetation is lost, so once again the areas of peat there dry out, the peat oxidises and CO2 is emitted. Also every time it rains that peat is washed down into our water courses.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 8/10


What the science and facts actually say:

In just the previous sentence Bob has just pointed out that there aren’t many gamekeepers for the size of the estates, so how could they repeatedly drive everywhere? Regardless, of which all tracks are regulated and designated sites are protected by Natural England.





12. BOB’S 12th LIE: 12mins, 51 secs

What Bob says: "It’s tremendously difficult to remove that peat from the water, it’s called a dissolved organic compound, it requires a lot of chemicals and a lot of filtering which is expensive and we pay for that in our water bills."


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: Again, unable to rate due to Bob’s confusion for subject matter and disingenuousness.


What the science and facts actually say:

Bob is mixing up DOC. I don’t know that water companies try to remove DOC and it is not related to water colour as often assumed. Furthermore, Bob, is making the assumption that grouse moor management makes this problem worse than it is on non-grouse managed moorland. If there is a wildfire then DOC climbs dramatically. Bad wildfires almost universally take place on moorland not managed for grouse.





13. BOB’S 13th LIE: 18:23 – [with regards to pest control traps]

What Bob says: “To be legal is has to be covered over by some sort of tunnel which is why the wire mesh is there.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 8/10


What the science and facts say? The traps all meet the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) here. The mouse trap you can buy at Tesco’s would fail this test by a country mile.





14. BOB’S 14th LIE: 20min, 25sec


What Bob says: "Up in the Orkney Islands the RSPB are involved in a £5 million project on issuing 20,000 of these traps to eliminate all the stoats on the Orkney’s. That’s because they say that stoats are not natural, they’re not native to the Orkney’s and they are harming sea bird populations."


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 7/10


What the science and facts actually say:

It was not £5million pounds given to the RSPB, it was £6million pounds given by a taxpayer funded EU grant. Furthermore, it was not just stouts that were caught in these traps but also:

· 2068 Rats;

· 242 Rabbits;

· 111 Starlings;

· 48 mice;

· 18 Hedgehogs;

· 12 unidentified birds;

· 10 Orkney Voles;

· 9 Frogs and Toads;

· 4 Cats;

· 2 Blackbirds

· 2 Water Rails.





15. BOB’S 15th LIE: 21min, 52sec –

What Bob says: “The government is a big supporter of the use of these traps and it even produces official guidance for how these crows should be killed and that must happen out of sight of the public.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: Again, a demonstration of ignorance rather than a lie.


What the science and facts actually say:

The ‘out of sight’ relates to killing out of sight of other trapped birds to avoid causing distress to others. The law requires a swift death; such as striking the head.




16. BOB’S SIXTEENTH LIE: 22mins, 27 sec

What Bob says: “There is no effective enforcement of environmental regulation [in the uplands]”.

Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 9/10


What the science and facts actually say: Defra and Natural England regulate everything in the countryside.




17. BOB’S 17th LIE: 23min, 26sec –

What Bob says: “This is a golden plover and, a beautiful bird, lovely to see these out on the moors. I’m not an expert on the numbers of them but people tell me that the numbers are struggling.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 9/10


What the science and facts actually say:

The Golden Plover is Green Listed as a bird of conservation concern and helped as a result of proper conservation management.




FINALLY, A LINE OF TRUTH FROM BOB, 34mins, 07 secs –

What Bob says: [When asked about Sheffield City Council work and their support of land managed by Sheffield Moors Partnerships] “There hasn’t been [controlled] burning on that area for donkeys years.”


Bob's Lie-O-Metre: 0/10 - he is telling the truth for once.


What the science and facts actually say:

Bob is correct, there has not been any controlled burning on the land managed by Sheffield Moor Partnership and, unsurprisingly, these 56sq Km of uplands landscape have had some of the most devastating wildfires in recent times, including losing 200 years of stored carbon in a single night.




18. Bob’s 18th Lie: 37min 46sec

What Bob says: “The moors outside of Sheffield which are used for shooting I think get something like £650,000 a year in government funding.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: Purposely misleading, rather than a lie.


What the science and facts actually say:

As Bob knows only too well, grants are not for shooting, they are for farming and land management. He is, yet again, seeking to twist the truth.





19. BOB’s 19th LIE/STATEMENT OF IDIOCY: 39min,08sec

What Bob says: “In terms of management, if we continue to provide those levels of funding then that does give very good opportunities for people to engage in very robust re-wilding schemes. I mean re-wilding very much about hands-off rather than hugely intensive management.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: Less a lie, more confusion for poor Bob.


What the science and facts actually say?

Re-wilding is indeed a hands-off approach, and therefore on SSSI and other designated sights would not be permitted because the precious habitats there would be lost as a conseqeunce. We don’t have a shortage of ‘scrub’ around the world but be do have a global shortage of heather moorland. Why would Bob want to get rid of it?





20. BOB’S 20th LIE: 41min, 43sec

What Bob says: "Do we have any idea how many rural jobs, are dependent on grouse shooting? Well it’s very few, I mean if we’re talking about the Sheffield area I would think it would be something like 10 gamekeepers being employed."


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre: 10/10


What the science and facts actually say

The number of gamekeepers working around South Yorkshire and the Peak District is vastly higher than ten. Furthermore, Bob, makes no mention of the support service jobs associated. Year-round moorland management is underpinned by the income generated from grouse shooting. It is an integrated cycle. Landowners manage significant economic operations that consist of more than just operating grouse moors.




21. BOB’s 21st LIE – 45min, 30sec –

What Bob says: “There are huge opportunities in tourism, getting people up there and seeing this beautiful landscape that we have in a way that doesn’t damage it. There are huge opportunities for employment there.”


BOB’s Lie-O-Metre: 8/10


What the science and facts actually say:

Let’s just take the North York Moors National Park as an example. It has 8.38 million visitors annually, generating spend of £730m and supporting 11,290 full time equivalent jobs. Between 80% and 85% of the area of the North York Moors is managed as grouse moor. There have been no alternative uses put forward for managing grouse moors that would deliver the same positive economic impacts for what are some of the most remote parts of the UK. Tens of millions of people visit the beautiful heather clad moors every year across the country. Who else will pay for it? Nature reserves are subsidized by memberships and government grants because tourism does not create anywhere a comparable income.




Bob’s 22nd Lie: 46min:55sec –

What Bob says: “There’s a huge problem of birds of prey in grouse shooting areas.”


Bob’s Lie-O-Metre – 8/10


What the science and facts actually say:

There was only a problem with hen harriers and their numbers are booming to the highest level in 30 years – thanks to a Defra recovery plan which the gamekeepers fully support. Furthermore, in Berzin’s stomping ground of South Yorkshire the recent BTO bird survey confirmed major increase in numbers of all birds of prey, including merlins, peregrines and even 1,250% increase in buzzards.


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Mind you, he would not be the first Peak District anti-grouse shooting activist caught lying about birds of prey on camera. Last year surveillance technology professional, George Taylor, was caught giving a presentation where he claimed there was only 3 pairs of hen harriers in the UK, rather than 600, as this video demonstrates.




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So, in total that equates to roughly one lie every two mins in a 45-minute presentation, each of which seems specifically designed to attempt to tarnish the reputation of gamekeepers and traditional moorland management practices.


For anyone seeking a more reliable view of the benefits of moorland management and grouse shooting we suggest watching instead of the recent grouse shooting debate in parliament, which can be found here: