The Moorland Association has released the following press release: The ancient tradition of carefully managed rotational burning on moorlands following modern best practice is one of many tools used to enhance some species in fragile upland areas. Over the past six months, nature, conservation, farming, grouse shooting and water quality representatives have been identifying best methods for restoring the underlying peatland.
Work was carried out while EMBER, a scientific study funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and supported by Yorkshire Water, was specifically looking at burning on peatlands.
Although its findings have now been published showing how fire affects various aspects of the upland ecosystem, what has not been investigated is the impact if burning stopped.
There are important wildlife benefits. Burning allows fresh heather growth for sheep and red grouse to eat. Essential cover for ground nesting birds is also provided. A mosaic of edges and patches is formed across the moor for habitats and food.
Crucially, burning older heather reduces the risk of devastating wildfires which destroy everything Moorland Association members, and other nature conservationists, strive to protect. It is just one of the many ways vegetation is managed.
Members are committed to improving the health of the moors and believe it is vital to strike a balance between land use and better functioning deep peat. They are part of world-leading innovative projects to re-wet the moors, slowing the growth of heather, which in turn will need less burning.
The long-term gains from healthy functioning peat for carbon storage, water quality and biodiversity will counter the more immediate effects highlighted in the EMBER report from burning carried out to aide that restoration.