Vegetation burning for game management in the UK uplands is increasing and overlaps spatially with soil carbon and protected areas

Vegetation burning for game management in the UK uplands is increasing and overlaps spatially... Burning for habitat management is globally widespread. Burning over carbon-rich soils is a global environmental concern due to the potential contribution to climate change. In the UK, upland heath and blanket bog, so-called 'moorland', often overlies carbon-rich soils, and has internationally important conservation value, but is burned as management for gamebird shooting and to a lesser extent for livestock grazing. There is little detailed information on the spatial extent or temporal trends in burning across the UK. This hinders formulation of policies for sustainable management, given that the practice is potentially detrimental for soil carbon storage, water quality and habitat condition. Using remotely sensed data, we mapped burning for gamebird management across c45000km2 of the UK. Burning occurred across 8551 1-km squares, a third of the burned squares in Scotland and England were on peat ≥0.5m in depth, and the proportion of moorland burned within squares peaked at peat depths of 1–2m. Burning was detected within 55% of Special Areas of Conservation and 63% of Special Protection Areas that were assessed, and the proportion of moorland burned was significantly higher inside sites than on comparable squares outside protected areas. The annual numbers of burns increased from 2001 to 2011 irrespective of peat depth. The spatial overlap of burning with peat and protected areas and the increasing number of burns require urgent attention, for the development of policies for sustainable management and reversal of damage to ecosystem services in the UK uplands. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biological Conservation Elsevier

Vegetation burning for game management in the UK uplands is increasing and overlaps spatially with soil carbon and protected areas

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V.
ISSN
0006-3207
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.biocon.2015.06.014
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Burning for habitat management is globally widespread. Burning over carbon-rich soils is a global environmental concern due to the potential contribution to climate change. In the UK, upland heath and blanket bog, so-called 'moorland', often overlies carbon-rich soils, and has internationally important conservation value, but is burned as management for gamebird shooting and to a lesser extent for livestock grazing. There is little detailed information on the spatial extent or temporal trends in burning across the UK. This hinders formulation of policies for sustainable management, given that the practice is potentially detrimental for soil carbon storage, water quality and habitat condition. Using remotely sensed data, we mapped burning for gamebird management across c45000km2 of the UK. Burning occurred across 8551 1-km squares, a third of the burned squares in Scotland and England were on peat ≥0.5m in depth, and the proportion of moorland burned within squares peaked at peat depths of 1–2m. Burning was detected within 55% of Special Areas of Conservation and 63% of Special Protection Areas that were assessed, and the proportion of moorland burned was significantly higher inside sites than on comparable squares outside protected areas. The annual numbers of burns increased from 2001 to 2011 irrespective of peat depth. The spatial overlap of burning with peat and protected areas and the increasing number of burns require urgent attention, for the development of policies for sustainable management and reversal of damage to ecosystem services in the UK uplands.

Journal

Biological ConservationElsevier

Published: Nov 1, 2015

References

  • Linking nest histories, remotely sensed land use data and wildlife crime records to explore the impact of grouse moor management on peregrine falcon populations
    Amar, A.; Court, I.R.; Davison, M.; Downing, S.; Grimshaw, T.; Pickford, T.; Raw, D.
  • Using distribution models to test alternative hypotheses about a species' environmental limits and recovery prospects
    Anderson, B.J.; Arroyo, B.E.; Collingham, Y.C.; Etheridge, B.; Fernandez-De-Simon, J.; Gillings, S.; Gregory, R.D.; Leckie, F.M.; Sim, I.M.W.; Thomas, C.D.; Travis, J.; Redpath, S.M.
  • Carbon stocks in Scottish peatlands
    Chapman, S.J.; Bell, J.; Donnelly, D.; Lilly, A.
  • Does prescribed burning on peat soils influence DOC concentrations in soil and runoff waters? Results from a 10year chronosequence
    Clay, G.D.; Worrall, F.; Aebischer, N.J.
  • Upland land use predicts population decline in a globally near-threatened wader
    Douglas, D.J.T.; Bellamy, P.E.; Stephen, L.S.; Pearce-Higgins, J.W.; Wilson, J.D.; Grant, M.C.

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