Managing our moors: GWCT letter to The Guardian


Our heather moors were created thousands of years ago by settlers, who are known to have used fire and grazing to clear woodland. These ancient skills have since been adopted by gamekeepers and conservationists alike - because they maintain this globally-rare habitat.

George Monbiot’s suggestion (Clearing moors for grouse shooting creates a tinderbox - 27 June) that we should cover our moors in trees, because they don’t burn, is daft. The biggest wildfires in Scotland have involved regenerated forests. No doubt those dedicated to protecting our moorland wildlife and the ten million visitors attracted the beauty of the Peak District would agree.

Andrew Gilruth
Director of Communications
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Guardian / Monbiot

at 17:12 on 03/07/2018 by Charles Grisedale

I read the usual drivel re Saddleworth fire , which politicians love to believe, with my usual disdain . The distorted views no longer surprise me . But there was a happy bit at the end with The Guardian Newspaper asking for donations , presumably getting strapped for cash .

National Parks, Moorland management

at 13:51 on 03/07/2018 by Eileen Mawle

George Monbiot advocates the rewilding of National Parks and in a discussion on radio 4 last week he declared that environmentally, National Parks were"little better that a 5 story car park". Obviously a rediculouse statement which should not warrant contradicting but perhaps if all the figures for flora and fauna found within the various National Parks were to be collated, we could Trump such unsubstantiated statements. Certainly managed moorland is a habitat made by man and peat is an important carbon sink . These areas are a last ridout for many red listed species and managed correctly are less likely to be subject to wild fires.

Saddleworth Moor

at 13:46 on 03/07/2018 by Anthony Burnand

The recent moorland fires are as a direct result of climate change. There are two reasons we have a temperate climate, our position with regards the equator, and trees. CO2 emissions have risen due to fossil fuels, however the balance between CO2 and trees is a delicate one. Trees put back moisture into the air, and regulate CO2, more immigration means more houses, more roads and less trees. The burning of old heather actually reduces the tinderbox effect, although great care is required to avoid a devastating fire. Moorland is always under threat from pioneer tree species, and this management must continue. To blame grouse shooting on the devastating fire, is like blaming fishermen for an oil spill.

Moorland and woodland fires

at 13:43 on 03/07/2018 by Mark Yorke

With my experience of moorland and forest fires within W ales, Scotland and the New Forest over 35 years, I can make the following brief observations: (which i hope are nothing new ) 1. At times of high/extreme fire risk (as now) extensive ares of unmanaged "rank" heather ( and other vegetation ) on remote sites with difficult access, are prone to extensive fire from careless or malicious human activity. "Back burning" is commonly the best means of eventual control, with dozed fire breaks where relevant. 2. In similar situations, BUT where the heather is MANAGED by seasonal, rotational and controlled small scale burns -- e.g. on designated conservation sites, or upland grazing or grouse moors, there is limited opportunity for a fire to spread as a result of malicious etc. activity. 3. Coniferous Forest/woodland fires can be divided into Ground Fires where the young woodland has,nt closed canopy to suppress inflammable vegetation, and Crown Fires in mature /semi mature forest. Their causes and method of control differ. Has Mr. Mombiot been objectively briefed ( one to one ) on site, with regard to the pros and cons of managed and unmanaged heather moorland ?

letter to the Times on moorland and fire

at 11:31 on 01/07/2018 by martin a perryman

I understand Britain has 70% of the world's heather moorland so it is an exceptionally rare habitat presumably ? So to cover it in trees or let it revert to scrub would hardly seem to be logical , Red grouse would not live in woodland , struggle in scrub unless it had a lot of heather , waders need open space and trees would harbour more predators surely, so George Monbiot is, to put it politely , talking through the back of his head again!

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