Walshaw Moor: Burning can be a useful tool

As managers of one million acres of this country’s precious and fragile uplands, the Moorland Association would like to make important clarifications, following Don Mort’s story, Walshaw Moor grouse shoot at centre of legal action over blanket bog burning.

We are aware that Defra has received a formal notice from the European Commission, but do not know the detail of its content.

However, we are confident that the right approach is to concentrate on the best and quickest ways to fix deep peat to meet all habitat regulations and that is what we are committed to doing.

Across vast tracts of land in northern England, we are working with key partners to rewet peat by blocking-up thousands of kilometres of historic, ill-advised, agricultural drains, slowing and cleaning water, revegetating hundreds of hectares of bare peat and reintroducing the king of bog plants, Sphagnum moss.

More than 15,000 acres are currently under restoration on moors managed for red grouse, crucial work as healthy peatland has an essential part to play in water quality and run-off and trapping carbon.

An important tool in achieving this can be ‘restoration burning’, removing the canopy of over-dominant heather to inoculate with Sphagnum. The need to burn regularly will decrease as heather growth slows as the land gets wetter.

The process also boosts the habitats and food supplies of our precious moorland wildlife, including notable endangered bird species and plants, and best practice burning has an active role to play in wildfire mitigation.

Rewetting our peatlands cannot happen overnight, but will ultimately impact positively on flood mitigation, biodiversity, water quality and carbon capture.

Amanda Anderson

Director,

The Moorland Association,

Lancaster