|Photo by Laurie Campbell|
Ben Webster’s report (Burning of grouse moors linked to global warming, report 1st Oct) highlights the results of a new study indicating that heather burning could contribute to climate change.
Although this measure is largely carried out to benefit red grouse, who eat the young shoots of heather, we must not forget that it has a positive benefit for many other species too. Mountain hares feed on the fresh heather; it provides cover for ground nesting birds and a mosaic of edges and patches across the moor provide vital habitats for many other different species too.
Crucially, heather burning is also a significant management tool to mitigate against the risk of wildfires, which can easily gain a hold and destroy everything that moor owners seek to protect.
With growing evidence that the earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, it is imperative that we support practices that enhance environments for wildlife. Carefully managed rotational heather burning is known to enrich the land for some species in fragile upland areas. What has not been investigated is the impact on these species if burning stopped.
Director of Communications
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
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