This week saw the publication of a report by the Committee on Climate Change on the management of land in a changing climate. The report, which focuses on England, details the extent to which land use will deliver important goods and services in the face of a changing climate – supplying food and timber, providing habitat for wildlife, storing carbon in the soil, and coping with sea level rise on the coast. It explores the extent to which decisions about the land are helping the country to prepare for climate change.
Part of the report focuses on upland peat and considers the condition of peatlands at present and the policy tools that might be available to achieve the desired goal of enhanced peatland restoration.
A BBC report recast this considered policy analysis into a story that suggested that “landowners are fuelling climate change by clearing peat bogs for grouse shooting” and recast the suggestion that public funds should be used to support the delivery of public goods as effectively meaning that landowners would be paid for doing nothing.
Tim Baynes, Director of Scottish Land & Estates’ Moorland Group said: “This BBC report is a travesty. It is factually incorrect and misleading. Many moorland owners are actively involved in efforts to restore peatlands.
The implication that landowners will be paid for doing nothing is also far from the truth. Peatland restoration involves proactive activity on the part of the landowner and is undertaken to enhance the delivery of public goods in the form of enhanced biodiversity and carbon storage. It is entirely legitimate that if the public wants to see the delivery of these public goods it should be willing to support their delivery, regardless of who the recipient of that support is”.
Scottish Land & Estates is entirely supportive of the work being undertaken in Scotland by the IUCN Peatland Programme and SNH. Moorland managers can play a vital role in delivering to society a range of environmental benefits and we are fully engaged in efforts to design mechanisms that promote and reward good peatland management which secures them in a wet and functioning state”.