Heinemeyer, A and Ashby, MA (2023) Prescribed Fire in UK Heather-Dominated Blanket Bog Peatlands: A Critical Review of “Carbon Storage and Sequestration by Habitat: A Review of the Evidence (Second Edition)” by Gregg et al., 2021. Fire, 6 (204). ISSN 2571-6255

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Peatlands are a vast global carbon store. Both climate change and management have shaped peatlands over millennia, sometimes negatively, sometimes positively. Across the globe, prescribed fire is an important and well-recognised vegetation management tool used to promote biodiversity, increase habitat heterogeneity and mitigate uncontrolled wildfires. However, in the UK, there is an ongoing debate about the efficacy and legitimacy of using prescribed fire as a vegetation management tool. The debate centres around the extent to which prescribed burning is associated with a decline in habitat status and ecological function, especially in relation to carbon storage within heather-dominated blanket bog peatlands. Robust reviews of the evidence base are thus required to disentangle this debate and inform land management policies that ensure the protection and enhancement of blanket bog ecological functioning. Here, we critically review “Carbon storage and sequestration by habitat: a review of the evidence (second edition)” by Gregg et al., 2021. We see the value in synthesising the evidence on this topic but question the methodological approach used by Gregg et al. Another concern is their misrepresentation of evidence relating to prescribed burning impacts on blanket bog ecosystems and carbon budgets. We highlight these issues by focusing on the relevant peatland sections within the review by Gregg et al. and conclude by making a series of recommendations to improve the review’s scientific robustness and, thereby, its value to academics, land managers and policymakers.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Uncontrolled Keywords: carbon storage; carbon sequestration; blanket bog; evidence-based policy; net ecosystem carbon balance; peatlands; prescribed fire; vegetation burning; upland land management
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 23 May 2023 10:24
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 10:24
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/12676

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