With reference to the anonymous letter in the August 23 issue, please note that in the local area “moorland” covers four distinct habitats - acid grassland, dry heath, wet heath and blanket bog.
If your correspondent had taken the trouble to read our Ban The Burn literature, he would have discovered that our campaign focusses solely on the globally rare habitat of blanket bog – the upland peat plateaus.
Heather and grass burning, swales and other forms of management may be appropriate on acid grassland and dry heath but they are NOT appropriate on blanket bog.
Looking after our blanket bogs is important from a number of different angles – reducing the “flashiness” of river levels in high rainfall events, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, reducing dissolved organic carbon in our water, providing a habitat for birds such as the dunlin, and last – but not least – minimising the risk of moorland fires (an undrained blanket bog is not a fire risk).
In 2010 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature initiated an 18-month commission of inquiry into UK peatlands, bringing together experts on science, policy and practice.
The committee published its final assessment in November 2011 highlighting the multiple benefits provided by peat bogs.
One major conclusion was that re-vegetation and ending burning was the most effective form of restoration: “In bogs with high water tables and ample sphagnum growth, burning should not be necessary as the growth of sphagnum forces heather to generate new shoots as the peat builds up.”
Extensive drainage and burning on the blanket bog causes immense damage. This needs to be put right.
What do we want? Mossy tops! When do we want them? Now!
I’d like to end up on a note of agreement with your anonymous correspondent. Paving and building on green space is another important factor which could increase local flood risk, and it’s a no-brainer to keep the town’s drainage system well maintained.