Peatland plea

Trust joins cross-sector coalition calling to end the practice of burning on peatlands

Muirburn lelland web detail

The John Muir Trust is one of a number of organisations that has signed up to a letter from Scottish Environment LINK to Roseanna Cunningham – Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform – calling on the government to ban burning on peatlands and introduce additional safeguards against fires spreading into peatlands.

In recent years, the Scottish Government has recognised the vital role of peatlands in storing and removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Muirburn is a well-established practice that takes place over a range of soil types. The risks, however, include the potential for vegetation fires to spread into the peat itself, causing damage and degradation which in turn triggers the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

To protect peatlands, the Muirburn Code states that burning should not take place on peatlands (defined as areas of peat deeper than 50cm). This part of the Code, however, is only advisory. Given the dangers, Scottish Environment LINK believes that the the government needs to move beyond guidelines and prohibit outright the burning of peatlands.

LINK – a coalition of environmental, community, wildlife, forestry, and outdoor recreational groups – is also calling for the Minister to:

  • develop a stable, multi-annual platform for funding peatland restoration
  • halt commercial peat extraction
  • revisit the 50cm threshold for deep peat to ensure it is based on the most recent science
  • address the issue of invasive non-native tree establishment on peatlands
  • reduce the loss of peatland through development and restore areas of peatland that have been planted with commercial forestry.

Read the full letter from LINK to Rosanna Cunningham MSP.

Photo: Muirburn by Kevin Lelland.