It’s difficult to hide a fire on open moorland – this is the recent controversial fire at Deer Hill – seen from about five miles away.
Both Moorland Association and Scottish Land and Estates have asked their members to cease heather burning at this time in order not to fill peoples’ lungs with smoke at the time when coronavirus is affecting the nation’s health, and so as not to impose on the resources of the emergency services.
Well, actually, Scottish Land and Estates asked their members yesterday to cease burning and their website is very clear about this – well done to them (and I don’t often say that!)!
In contrast, despite it being high-profile incidents in England which have prompted major concern from the emergency services and National Park authorities, the Moorland Association’s website does not (as of 17:30 today) yet carry any such advice or instruction. Rather ironically, the Moorland Association’s webpage has a 2-week-old story about wild fires as its ‘latest news’!
Luckily for all Guardian-reading moorland owners and gamekeepers, Amanda is quoted in the Guardian thus;
Following the increased risks of wildfire and Covid-19 restrictions we have supported the suspension of heather burning and have advised our members to use cutting instead.
Controlled burning is an important tool in managing our moorlands when used in the right place at the right time. This is not the right time.https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/mar/26/uk-landowners-told-to-stop-burning-moorland-after-yorkshire-blaze
A climate emergency is never the right time to burn on peat soils and increase the emission of greenhouse gases, and the breeding season of many moorland birds is a pretty bad time too and the emergence from hibernation of Common Lizards and Adders on moorland is a bad time to do it too. In fact, when is the right time? The right time is probably never.
Let’s see how Amanda’s non-Guardian-reading members get on – it’s very difficult to hide heather burning as there is very rarely smoke without fire.
Grouse moor managers burn heather to create artificially favourable conditions for Red Grouse with the aim being to shoot these birds after the Inglorious 12th August. And nobody could argue that shooting Red Grouse is anything other than a niche hobby – it’s hardly essential or economically important.