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Scientific debate about managing peatlands with fire

Published: 14 November 2019
Heather moorland. Photo.

A researcher at the department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment is a co-author on a new Matters Arising piece in Nature Geoscience.

Michel Peacock, researcher at the Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, is a co-author on a new Matters Arising piece by Baird et al. in Nature Geoscience, titled "Validity of managing peatlands with fire".

The piece is written in reply to a recent paper in the same journal that suggested that prescribed burning is an appropriate management option to reduce wildfire in northern peatlands, even though this reduces carbon accumulation.

Baird et al. refute this suggestion by firstly arguing that the study site used in the original paper is highly degraded, thereby making it difficult to extrapolate from this site to other undisturbed northern peatlands. Secondly, they point out that undisturbed peatlands are wet and have a diverse flora, and therefore naturally have a low risk of wildfire. Rather than burning, Baird et al. advocate that peatland rewetting is a far more suitable tool to protect peatlands from wildfire.

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