Interdisciplinary Research on Ecosystem Services:
Fire and Climate Change in UK Moorlands and Heaths


Moorland and heathland ecosystems in the UK both sustain human use and are sustained by it. Fire plays a key but equivocal role, raising many controversies for management and policy making, especially under the threat of climate change.

The diverse environmental, social and cultural ecosystem services provided by moorlands and heathlands include carbon storage, biodiversity, water provision, flood protection, aesthetic/recreational value, and economic value from tourism, sporting enterprisesand grazing.

Managed fire has traditionally played an important role in maintaining the landscape and biodiversity. For instance, rotational burning is used to maintain heather moors for grouse and grazing animals and contributes to floristic diversity.

In contrast, accidental or malicious wildfires increasingly threaten moorland and heathland ecosystem services and are likely to become more frequent and severe with climate change.

Managed fires and wildfires are linked. Managed fires can reduce wildfire risk by reducing fuel load and creating firebreaks, but, if poorly controlled, can result in wildfires themselves. Research on wildfires in UK moorlands and heathlands is in its infancy and lacks co-ordination. This seminar series seeks to contribute to effective management of wildfire risk by identifying policy implications and developing a joined-up research agenda for the UK.