- Written by Roy Turnbull
- Category: Debates
- Published: 13 April 2016
On Monday, April 4, The Scotsman published an article giving the sporting estates' defence of muirburn - the burning of heather during grouse moor management.
On Friday, you published the results of research from Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, indicating that adopting the latest "sustainable land use practices" would allow the locking away, or sequestration, of huge quantities of greenhouse gases in "farmland and natural wild spaces".
Thus we witness a nineteenth century indulgence confronted by twenty first century reality.
Recent muirburn next to woodland in the Cairngorms National Park, Spring 2016.
Grouse moors and deer stalking estates have this in common: they both minimise carbon sequestration.
Burning of grouse moors and over-grazing of stalking estates prevents woodland regeneration and devastates ground vegetation, whilst compacting soils and reducing their carbon retention capacities. These systems are the very opposite of "sustainable land use practices" if that sustainability has any reference to the aspirations of the recent Paris summit on climate change, to which our governments are committed.
The questions arise: How long, in a world divesting its money from fossil fuels and increasingly desperate about global warming, can these anachronistic and damaging land-uses prevail? When will the monetary value of sporting estates begin to plummet? How long will it take before the Scottish Government faces up to this reality and provides scientifically appropriate legislation to govern the demise and transition of Scotland's sporting estates?
Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire