Fascinating search of @DefraGovUK's Magic Map land use database shows great swathes of the Dark Peak that are currently managed for driven grouse shooting can *no longer legally be burned* because they are carbon-storing blanket bog. Question: what will the owners do now?
Everything in beige is designated blanket bog. Until the law changed this week, large swathes of it were subjected regularly to swaling, i.e. controlled (sometimes getting out of control) burns to stimulate new heather to feed grouse to maximise shooting pleasure for the 'guns'.
What do the estates do now? Burn anyway & rely on the lack of enforcement from deliberately underfunded government bodies? Use mechanical cutting to stimulate fresh browsing? What's missing: the obligation to restore/rewet these blanket bogs. Which should be a national priority.
The problem now is that stopping the burning - which only keeps the blanket bog degraded and thirsty - is not sufficient. This is such denatured land that we need to be restoring it as a carbon sink. I'd be happy for the landowners to receive handsome subsidies to do this.
Or the grouse shooting estates can have their cake and eat it, by rewetting and restoring the blanket bogs - with subsidy help if need be - and creating the kind of mixed habitat semi-wilderness that exists in Sweden, where *wild* grouse shooting is popular.
So our uplands can be managed as precious carbon stores, and/or they can become wilder places where genuinely sustainable shooting can continue, though on very different terms than the canned shooting that currently disfigures them. The partial burning ban is just the first step.
God, I would love to get past the hostility that currently divides us over our uplands. I'd cheerfully volunteer for conservation work on Moscar Moor. The Duke of Rutland & his friends can shoot on restored blanket bog & the rest of us can walk in a wild & carbon rich landscape.
We need government to lead a national effort to restore our uplands, especially the blanket bogs, our biggest carbon store. And warring parties need somehow to come together to find a shared vision and purpose. For what can be achieved, see @moorsforfuture and @EasternMoors.
Business as usual is *over* for the driven grouse shooting estates. They must see this, and reach out to the rest of us who don't want to live beside drained and scorched bio-deserts. And if they reach out, the rest of us need to be welcoming and ready to become allies at last.
Utopian, perhaps, to imagine such a scenario is possible. But in the age of climate emergency and biodiversity collapse, none of us has any choice. @TonyJuniper @ZacGoldsmith @pow_rebecca @DefraGovUK

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