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MOOR OWNERS’ REACTION TO GOVERNMENT MOVE ON HEATHER BURNING

29th January 2021

The Moorland Association, whose members care for more than one million acres of moorland, issued the following statement in response to the Government’s announcement on new legislation regarding heather burning on blanket bog.

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association, said: “Heather burning is a vital tool for moor owners and managers who are heavily involved in peatland restoration and tackling climate change. They will be concerned over the impact new legislation and further restrictions may have on their important conservation work. This is an extremely complex issue. There is a real desire to work constructively with government to achieve shared environmental ambitions and a lot of constructive work is already happening.

“We are glad government has recognised that controlled winter burning has a part to play in certain circumstances, particularly preventing wildfire which is the greatest – and growing – threat to moorland. The provision of licences to assist wildfire prevention and conservation work will be important and we look forward to seeing more detail on these proposals.

“Wildfire prevention and conservation work goes hand-in-hand with moor owners’ long-standing commitment to tackling climate change and driving forward peatland restoration. Moor owners have already invested heavily in re-greening the equivalent of tens of thousands of football pitches of bare peat and blocking thousands of miles of old agricultural drains to help water retention on moorland and reduce emissions.”

Defra’s announcement can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/englands-national-rainforests-to-be-protected-by-new-rules

Notes to editors:

The new regulations will prevent the burning of any specified vegetation on areas of deep peat (over 40cm depth) on specific sites protected by European directives. Moorland managers do not burn peat. Removing the heather canopy by controlled burning does not harm the peat or moss underneath and allows more light in to the understory of vegetation. This benefits a range of peat-forming plants and also birds of conservation concern, such as golden plover and curlew.

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Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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