As part of the Muirburn Code Review we will be including references to the role of moorland management by burning and cutting as a means to restrict the capacity of wildfires to cause damage, especially to people, property, and sensitive habitats.
As an example of the sort of damage that wildfire can cause, The Peak District Moorland Group's Facebook page has some images, video clips and other information about the wildfire that occurred on Howden Moor, near Ladybower reservoir, last week. A click on the photos will enlarge them and give access to the comments added by the Moorland Group - they speak for themselves.
There is an interesting debate about the management of moorland developing in the comments. The National Trust is being criticised for the lack of heather management, but it has also been pointed out that there is no fire without a source of ignition and the three main sources are: men, women and children.
Some of the areas of the moor in the photos appear to have been managed recently, probably by burning, and I guess that these areas are on land that is managed for grouse shooting. The photos appear to show how the fire has not affected the areas that have burnt previously. This is a demonstration of the point that we need to plan for wildfire as part of our management of moorland. You do not have to shoot grouse to manage moorland, and management should include the construction of firebreaks to provide stops for wildfire and also to allow access for firefighting.
Firebreaks will also add vegetation diversity that will increase the value of moorland to a range of plant, bird and animal species. Firebreaks do not have to be motorways cut or burned in ugly, straight lines across moorland; they can be formed to follow the landscape and add visual diversity.