letter on Friday (3 December) suggesting that management of the uplands for deer or by burning heather was detrimental to the carbon capture & storage potential of the uplands. Adam Smith, Director Scotland for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and I disagree and have sent the following letter to the Editor:
Contrary to the letters on Friday, a balanced view suggests our peatland performance is not presently so poor. The recently published findings from the IUCN Commission of Inquiry rightly identifies that enhancing carbon capture on deep peat, such as blanket bogs, is at least theoretically achievable. We are concerned that making this the key objective for all Scottish peatland systems is short-sighted. Research evidence supports the view that management carried out by landowners and managers to enhance habitats for grazing by, for example sheep, cattle, deer, grouse and hares, actually increases the ability of our hills to capture carbon and store it in the peat. And the removal of litter and dense vegetation by managed fire reduces the likelihood of peat-damaging fires, such as those seen this spring in many areas where rotational muirburn is not practiced.
Managed fire in Scotland’s hills is an internationally recognised means of delivering biodiversity, cultural and economic outcomes from our upland peatlands. Our achievable vision is integrating peatland restoration, which maximises carbon capture and water quality, with the many services our farmers and sportsmen deliver from other parts of our hills for the benefit of all people in Scotland.
Adam Smith, Director Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust,
Simon Thorp, Director, Heather Trust