151MC: North York Moors further research

Before I photographed the North York Moors I conducted research into the main issues effecting the biodiversity and threatening conservation. This helped me focus on which areas to photograph. Pressures for change/land use


The increase in visitors for recreational uses has had many negative impacts on the landscape due to the way it is used and managed. One of the main management techniques is the burning of heather in rotations of 7 to 25 years. If they were to stop burning the heather it would eventually turn back into woodland. This woodland would then allow species of plants and animals to return back to the moors and therefore increase the biodiversity and the newly formed ecosystems will become sympathetic to the landscape again. At present the tree cover is limited and only in isolated pockets and by letting the woodland grow again it would reconnect old habitats and reduce fragmentation.

The burning of heather moorland also causes important peat bogs to dry out, increases the acidity level in rivers. Other effects include raised soil ­temperatures, an increased risk of flooding and higher silting of water courses.


However it is important to also look at the other side of the argument and understand the advantages of burning the heather. During the burning and cutting process traditional rural practices are used and in this respect it keeps these traditions alive and still in practice, without these they could be lost forever. Also the use of burning the heather reduces the need for heavy machinery which could damage the landscape further and increase our carbon footprint.

By cutting down the degenerate heather it will be able to regenerate quicker and in turn this quicker regeneration leads to less exposed peat soils and therefore habitats will return to the area quicker. In some cases the surrounding area is also burnt if it has a high risk of catching fire.



Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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