Moorland Burning - a hot topic
Posted on 6th April 2020
NYMA joins calls from environmental groups to find an alternative to burning heather
In a recent article in the Yorkshire Post, NYMA Chair Tom Chadwick argues for a cessation of the annual burning of heather by grouse-shooting enterprises. The argument in favour of burning is that it promotes the growth of nutritious young heather shoots for grouse and other moorland animals to feed on, but climate change scientists and other environmentalists argue that the practice damages the peat-layer which acts as a vital carbon sink and supports a biodiverse community of plants and animals. Burning is carried out on a rotational basis to create a mosaic of heather of different ages. Evidence regarding the benefits and disadvantages of the practice is inconclusive, and as yet an effective alternative has yet to be found: for instance some forms of mechanical cutting are unsuitable for moorland terrain (particularly steep or rocky areas) and can compact the soil. However Tom Chadwick points out that horizontal flail-chain cutting has been used successfully and could be used more widely. While grouse-shooting is recognised as a significant local industry, it is important to explore other possible methods of moorland management in order to mitigate the impact of burning on climate change - and to eliminate the pall of smoke which forms annually over large parts of the Moors when the heather is burned during early spring. The full article can be read here.
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