New burning research should prompt rethink: our letter to the Huddersfield Examiner

Dear Sir,

Kirklees Council will be interested to hear that our knowledge of the role heather burning plays in peatland restoration has progressed significantly since the Committee on Climate Change suggested it should cease.

More recent peer reviewed scientific research has demonstrated that winter ‘cool burns’, as still used on grouse moors, can support both biodiversity and carbon sequestration. As with any burning, some carbon will be released but new research shows that these low intensity fires actually help to protect the vast carbon stores locked below ground.

We also know that heather has adapted to successfully regenerate from these fires. If we are to expect extended dry periods, brought about by climate change, we must also be ready to reduce surface fuel loads because every time it doubles the fire intensity quadruples.

In light of this new scientific evidence perhaps the Council could explain why they feel heather burning, a tool that has been successfully used on our moors for over 5,000 years, should cease?

Andrew Gilruth, Director of Communications
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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