In his Opinion piece of 12 February for The Guardian, George Monbiot again berates land managers and government this time over the recent floods in West Yorkshire, blaming them on what he sees as poor practice.
As the article goes on, it makes some reasonable points about peatland restoration and the value of natural flood management measures, but how many people read that far? They are either turned on or turned off by a polarising headline that adds more fuel to an unhelpful culture of blame.
The reality, of course, is that cause and effect are much more convoluted than Mr Monbiot suggests and, if he is really looking for people to blame for climate change and extreme weather events, then 99.9% of society is implicated. Moor owners and managers are evolving their practices so that they can play a full part in climate regulation, natural flood management and biodiversity. Some lead the way, others follow and a sticky few resist – that is the way of it no matter what section of society you seek change from.
Tens of thousands of hectares of peatland are on a route to restoration on moorland across the UK all contributing to the outcomes he seeks. Results will not be seen overnight however and this type of work, while important, does not offer the complete solution to climate regulation or flood management. Everyone must make changes.
Rather than criticise, the Heather Trust takes a different approach. We work across sectors and interests to support the development of moorland management practices to ensure they deliver for new and important agendas. Moorland practices are being scrutinised through research and sound evidence-gathering. They should move forward based on this rather than rhetoric. Building consensus and common purpose is not the sort of work that grabs headlines in the way Mr Monbiot does, but it is the sort of work that leads to lasting change and might be a more constructive line to take.
Anne Gray Director
18 February 2020