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The role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management: the need for informed, unbiased debate

Davies, G. Matt; Kettridge, Nicholas; Stoof, Cathelijne R.; Gray, Alan; Ascoli, Davide; Fernandes, Paulo M.; Marrs, Rob; Allen, Katherine A.; Doerr, Stefan H.; Clay, Gareth D.; McMorrow, Julia; Vandvik, Vigdis. 2016 The role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management: the need for informed, unbiased debate [in special issue: The interaction of fire and mankind] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371 (1696), 20150342. 17, pp. 10.1098/rstb.2015.0342

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Abstract/Summary

Fire has been used for centuries to generate and manage some of the UK's cultural landscapes. Despite its complex role in the ecology of UK peatlands and moorlands, there has been a trend of simplifying the narrative around burning to present it as an only ecologically damaging practice. That fire modifies peatland characteristics at a range of scales is clearly understood. Whether these changes are perceived as positive or negative depends upon how trade-offs are made between ecosystem services and the spatial and temporal scales of concern. Here we explore the complex interactions and trade-offs in peatland fire management, evaluating the benefits and costs of managed fire as they are currently understood. We highlight the need for (i) distinguishing between the impacts of fires occurring with differing severity and frequency, and (ii) improved characterization of ecosystem health that incorporates the response and recovery of peatlands to fire. We also explore how recent research has been contextualized within both scientific publications and the wider media and how this can influence non-specialist perceptions. We emphasize the need for an informed, unbiased debate on fire as an ecological management tool that is separated from other aspects of moorland management and from political and economic opinions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1098/rstb.2015.0342
CEH Sections: Watt
ISSN: 0962-8436
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: moorland, management burning, prescribed burning, peat, UK, Calluna vulgaris, wildfire
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 16 Aug 2016 11:23 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/514274

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