Muirburn vital to Scottish land management

Press Release

Scottish Land & Estates, the rural business organisation, has responded to the latest unverified claims regarding the use of muirburn by land managers.  

Tim Baynes, Moorland Director, Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The controlled burning of heather, or Muirburn, is a long-established land management tool that is supported by government and the fire and rescue service. It is vital in helping prevent wildfires which are the biggest threat to the uplands.

“Burning is regulated and well monitored and land managers are very clear about where and when they are permitted to burn. The reports given to RSPB cannot be taken as hard evidence of any activity that breaches regulations. Even RSPB itself says only 1 in 5 fires may be on peat deeper than 50cm. Peat depths vary within small distances and only specific measurement on the ground can ascertain the actual depth.  The current Scottish guidance under the Muirburn Code is advisory and includes other criteria as well as peat depth. Also, any burning on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has to have the consent of NatureScot.

“Sadly, this is another occasion when highly questionable recording of information via the public on app is presented as fact by those pursuing an agenda against grouse moor management. Muirburn is a highly skilled practice and there is a massive effort made to ensure that it is carried out to the highest standards.

“There is also increasing evidence to show that well-managed muirburn does not harm carbon storage in peat and can actually enhance it.”