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Muirburning defended

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Muirburning defended

THE importance of muirburning to Scottish land management has been underlined by Scottish Land & Estates.

Their moorland director, Tim Baynes, 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.”

He spoke out following reports given to the RSPB that such activity sometimes breaches regulations and said: “Even RSPB itself says only one in five 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.”

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

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