Scottish Land & Estates statement on muirburn

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Press Release

Scottish Land & Estates has issued the following statement regarding muirburn in the Cairngorms.

More information on the science behind muirburn is also available to read here.  

Tim Baynes, from Scottish Land & Estates said: “Muirburn is the traditional way to manage moorland and has been practised for centuries, resulting in the Scotland’s renowned purple heather landscape. Muirburn is strictly regulated, and the benefits of muirburn are recognised by the government, its agencies as well as those who manage land. 

“At this time of year, old moorland vegetation is burnt off to enable fresh heather to grow.  The mosaic habitat resulting from muirburn has also given us an extraordinary suite of rare birds and mammals which is the envy of other countries. Carrying out muirburn is vital for upland biodiversity. Muirburn is very visible, and the amount of smoke from small fires can be deceptive. The public should not be alarmed by the sight of smoke on the hills and there is a very clear code of practice that clearly states that all burning should be carried out carefully and responsibly. It is important that when muirburn is called into question that there is clarity over the exact circumstances, rather than simply saying that fire on a hill is wrong and should be stopped. 

“Recent research shows that careful muirburn has minimal impact on the peat layer below  and can actually be beneficial because the charcoal formed by burning is a stable form of carbon storage, helping to prevent it being released into the atmosphere.”