7.2 Muirburn for Grazing Management

See Additional information No. 8 – Muirburn for Grazing Management

Key Issues:

Application:

  • Anyone who uses muirburn to manage vegetation on hill ground for grazing of domestic livestock or deer.

Objectives:

  • Remove dead grasses and encourage new growth to maximise the grazing value of the land, and provide linkages amongst tall vegetation to areas that can be grazed.

Frequency:

  • If muirburn is carried out every year it can have a negative impact on woody species, including dwarf shrubs such as: heather and blaeberry, which provide winter feed.
  • The result of burning too frequently can be the conversion of the vegetation to poor quality grassland, and the loss of any winter grazing.

Risks:

  • Grass fires have a fast rate of spread and react quickly to changes in wind direction.
  • Grass fires can breach firebreaks through: heat transfer, spotting or creeping fire.
  • Dead or cured grass is a fine fuel that dries out quickly, and this can lead to significant increases in the rate of spread and fire intensity.
  • Insufficient preparation of firebreaks, staff or equipment creates significant risk of wildfires. It is important to be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Burning in a restricted area may result in a “honeypot effect” causing local overgrazing and poaching.

Benefits:

  • Greater short term grazing capacity for domestic stock.
  • Fires can be used to distribute grazing more widely, to encourage movement through areas avoided by livestock, or to attract deer to specific areas.

Size of fire:

  • Large fires should not be lit without very careful planning, preparation and implementation.
  • Large fires carried out without due care are a significant cause of wildfire, that can damage neighbours’ land and woodland. This can lead to both criminal and civil legal action.

Location:

  • Typically on grass-dominated moorland but also on heather moorland, predominantly in the West of Scotland.