“Moorish fires are a burning problem – they destroy our precious natural habitats” – Nada Farhoud

A few lively days passed in my email inbox.

Last week I reported on a fierce battle in North Yorkshire between hunter-gatherers burning heather to raise lake populations and activists who say the practice is creating an environmental disaster.

Many people wrote praising the Mirror. There were others shoving the knife.

The issue is not just limited to North York Moors National Park. Readers have told me how fires also occur in Durham County, the Peak County and also the Yorkshire River Valley.

I was called a liar, accused of being in the pocket of anti-blood sports activists and not understanding the countryside because I live by the sea. And apparently I have an agenda because I like bird watching.

Great fire in North Yorkshire

Let’s explain a few things.

I grew up in the farming district of Bedfordshire, where my maternal grandfather worked the land and regularly fired. My three uncles still do.

A bunch of pheasants hanging in my grandfather’s barn was a common sight and I ate more rabbits than I can count as well as partridge, deer and other game. I even tried a tetra (once … not a fan). But I always despised fox hunting, moguling and hare-hunting.

I didn’t pay attention to the practices behind the tetra industry until the alarm bells had just rung.

Scientists say UK peatlands contain around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, double the amount of all of Britain’s forests combined, and are crucial to helping tackle climate change.

They warn that the burning must stop to protect this essential natural tool and our precious wild animal that depends on it.

But when The Rural Charity, RSPB, Friends of the Earth and The Wild Faith as well as the 53 other organizations that make up the League of Life and Countryside – the largest environment and wildlife coalition – say the practice is seriously damaging, for sure it’s time to listen. Oh, and don’t forget the Climate Change Committee, which recommended an immediate ban in January last year.

Denying this clear science is perhaps as damaging as saying that the pandemic is fake news. If we don’t start taking big steps to protect the health of the planet, there will be no more grouse to shoot.