Outrage as peatlands on grouse estates burn weeks ahead of crucial climate talks

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Less than three weeks before the UN’s Cop26 climate summit, the British government’s level of commitment to tackling the climate emergency is in the spotlight again, following outrage over the burning of “possibly illegal” peatlands at Grouse shooting estates in northern England. Middle.

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More than 100 fires have been reported in the carbon-rich peatlands in four days, conservation organizations have claimed, despite a government ban on the practice, which groups have said raises questions about the law’s effectiveness.

Moorlands have long been burned to encourage the growth of fresh heather, on which shoots, red grouse are reared to feed. But the practice was recently outlawed in an effort to preserve peat, which is threatened globally despite storing twice as much carbon as all forests in the world.

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Burning exposes peat not only to fire, which can burn longer and release enormous amounts of climate-changing carbon dioxide, but also to erosion, washing the peat into rivers and streams and emptying the land. Unable to give off and absorb water. Hence the risk of floods is increasing.

Peat also provides nesting and feeding grounds for many wading birds and is an important habitat for rare insects and plants.

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The RSPB has called on Defra and Natural England to “immediately investigate possible illegal peatland burning”, citing a fire in open moorland at Walshaw Moor, a grouse shooting estate, near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace said it had passed drone footage of 109 peatland fires, burning inside the North York Moors, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, as of October 10.

However, the legality of burning is difficult to assess, as the law states that it is illegal to burn without a license on peatlands deeper than 40 cm in protected areas.

RSPB Senior Policy Officer Dr Pat Thompson said: “It is outrageous that we see our peatlands burning in order to host Cop26 in Glasgow in the UK. These are the UK rainforests both in terms of their nature and their storage of carbon. are equal to.

“Each burn on peatlands destroys vital vegetation and exposes the peat surface itself. This causes erosion as the carbon in the peat is released into the atmosphere or carried into our rivers due to pollution.

“This process also reduces the ability of peatlands to slow the flow of water, which further exacerbates the problem. This further exacerbates the flooding problem in local communities, which we have seen in recent years. We are passing an important milestone in these places, and this practice needs to stop.”

“It is calling for licensed gross shootings to be done to better control what it sees as intensive and harmful land management,” the RSPB said in a statement.

Greenpeace UK climate chief Kate Blagojevic said: “Just days before the UK is going to host a major climate summit, our largest terrestrial carbon store has caught fire. And this is not a natural disaster, but an outright one. This is avoidable due to grouse moor owners setting fire to their own land.

“It is clear that government regulations are worse than toothless and have completely failed to stop this absurd practice that harms both the climate and wildlife.

She said: “A comprehensive embargo with concrete measures to fully or excessively protect at least 30 percent of our land and seas by 2030 must be immediately introduced – anything less would be a major embarrassment to the UK government.

“There are better ways to welcome world leaders to an important climate summit than at the sight of smoke and flames in our largest carbon store.”

RSPB has recently launched a new app For people to report burns on peatlands.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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