RSPB New Paper on Heather Burning
A new paper on the extent and frequency of heather burning used as a vegetation management tool across Britain is published in Biological Conservation.
The paper maps areas that have been burnt to regenerate vegetation for sheep and grouse between 2001 and 2011 and overlays these with areas of designation for conservation.
Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said: “It is no surprise that grouse moor management coincides with our most precious landscapes for conservation; 96 percent are in unfavourable recovering condition, beating government targets. But we can and are doing more.
“We are already involved with Natural England, RSPB and others, in very exciting practical action on the ground to improve the health of deep peat, such as reintroducing Sphagnum moss – the king of bog plants – where it has been lost.
“On grouse moors, thousands of kilometres of drainage ditches have been blocked up and hundreds of hectares of bare peat re-vegetated. This will all help deliver better water quality, improved carbon storage and more bog biodiversity.
“The RSPB know from its experience of managing Dove Stone moor in the Peak District (in 70 per cent unfavourable declining condition in 2005) that this does not happen overnight and there are many factors involved other than burning. In the meantime, we need to continue to manage the vegetation on top of the peat with great care.”