See Supplementary Information – Grouse Moor Management
- To provide a mosaic of different ages of heather and other vegetation to provide food, nesting areas and shelter for grouse. This can also benefit a range of other moorland species.
Style of Burning
- Low severity (“cool”) fires burnt over moist soils with a range of fire intensities depending on fuels, slope and wind.
- Narrow headfires creating strips with widths of 30-50m. Backing, flanking and other ignition patterns can also be used to control fire intensity and reduce the risk of escapes.
- Strip fires can run for several hundred metres.
- The period between management will be determined by the rate of growth of the heather. Burning should not take place until the heather is 20-30cm tall. In the most productive situations this will take at least 8 years, but it may take much longer in other areas.
- The rate of growth will be influenced by factors such as altitude, fertility of the soil and the amount of grazing, and burning frequency should be adjusted accordingly.
- Heather fires can have high fire intensity with a fast rate of spread, and they react quickly to changes in wind direction or wind speed.
- Fire intensities can be generated that are beyond the capacity of on-site fire control equipment.
- Heather fires can breach firebreaks through heat transfer or creeping through short vegetation.
- Low levels of fuel moisture can lead to significant increases in the rate of spread and fire intensity.
- Heather is a fine fuel with dead litter and elevated dead leaves, which can dry out quickly in the sun or with low levels of humidity.
- The live fuel moisture can also drop rapidly following frosts.
- Burning with inadequate firebreaks, staff or equipment or under the wrong conditions creates a significant risk of fires escaping to become wildfires.
- Burning too frequently can lead to dominance of grasses.
- Burning small fires may result in a “honeypot effect” causing local overgrazing and poaching.
- The burning or cutting of vegetation to increase structural diversity for grouse can provide benefits for other plant, bird and animal species on the moor.