Scientists and practitioners criticise ‘dangerous’ attempts to ban controlled burning on heather moors.
A group of prominent scientists and practitioners have said there is ‘no clear scientific consensus to support a blanket ban against controlled vegetation burning on heather moorland’ and that ‘policy decisions are being influenced by special interest groups who regularly ignore or distort evidence in order to outlaw the practice’.
The Future Landscapes Forum (FLF), a consortium of academics and experts in upland management, has published a position statement expressing their growing concerns that the debate about managing heather moorlands, including on peatlands, is neither properly informed nor evidence-based, leading to dangerous policy decisions that ignore the positive social and ecological effects of controlled burning.
The FLF position statement is available here:
The group says these decisions disregard a large body of evidence showing that controlled burning can support wildfire prevention, carbon capture, and biodiversity improvement. Moreover, risks and impacts of alternatives like cutting or no vegetation management remain largely unknown and are often ignored.
The FLF says that the debate around managing heather moorlands has become derailed by an undue focus on the issue of driven grouse shooting. The group says this focus is wrong and has led to highly reductive arguments against controlled burning being presented as scientific consensus by influential individuals and organisations.
About the Future Landscapes Forum
The Future Landscapes Forum (FLF) is a group of academics and practitioners with specialist knowledge of the management, ecology, functioning and fire risk associated with heather-dominated landscapes in the UK.
Members of the FLF have published a considerable body of peer-reviewed studies and assessments relating to this globally important habitat. Their shared views represent a collective body of current, evidence-based science and best practice about managing the UK’s heather dominated landscapes with the aims of protecting life and property; enhancing ecosystems; and preserving heather moorlands.