1 Background

Scotland’s moorland and upland areas are an iconic part of the country, and our heritage. These areas must be looked after properly and although they can recover quickly after being damaged, by a wildfire for example, they are more sensitive than they might at first appear. The natural, or ecosystem, services, that these areas provide are being increasingly recognised as essential for the well being of society in Scotland, and beyond, and these services can be put at risk by inappropriate management.

This revised version of the Muirburn Code addresses the Scottish Government’s strategic aims to:

  • Support well-managed muirburn in recognition of the wider socio-economic and environmental benefits it can generate;
  • Minimise negative impacts on wildlife, landscapes and ecosystem services; and
  • Minimise the risk of wildfires.

The Muirburn Code sets out the considerations that anyone must address who plans to manage a moorland or upland area using fire or cutting machinery.

A fundamental concept behind the Code is risk management so that when muirburn is done well, in accordance with the guidance set out in this Code, it provides benefits. When done badly, it can cause significant and lasting damage.

This Code includes Additional Information, which provides further detail to supplement the guidance included in the Code. Also, the Code has not repeated information that is freely available; instead links are provided to the source of this information.

The intention is to keep the Code up to date and revise it

Primarily, this Code is a guide for practitioners[1], but it will also have value to others wanting to know more about muirburn. While it does not replace the regulations, the Code aims to interpret them in a way that is relevant and useful for the managers of the land. See Additional Information No.2 for a list of offences and the associated legislation.

[1] The term ‘practitioner’ is used to describe everyone who is considering employing burning and cutting techniques to manage vegetation.