Burning is an important management tool, and in many areas it is the only practical, cost effective means of managing heather and some other vegetation.
A wider, more versatile range of cutting equipment is now available. Increasingly, cutting is being used in support of burning, and some practitioners have been surprised by the high quality of the results achieved by cutting. Some practitioners have opted to go one step further and manage their heather using cutting alone, and in appropriate circumstances and conditions, this is effective.
It is impossible to design a “one-size-fits-all” management plan that suits all moorland, and managers must make their own decisions, based on the guidance in this Code, about how best to manage their vegetation.
Management by fire and by cutting require different considerations and the differences are highlighted in the separate sections in this Code.
To Burn, To Cut or To Do Neither
Burning maybe the traditional activity on an area of moorland but alternatives should be considered. The issues to consider before making a decision whether to burn or to cut are set out in Additional Information No. 1.
In some areas the best approach may be to carry out no management work, especially in the short term. Such areas may have been subjected to burning and/or cutting in the past, but this may have served little purpose, or have even done harm. Examples of areas where this may be the case are on deep peat. See Section 7.1 and Additional Information No. 7.
The interaction with grazing must also be considered. Creating small areas of young vegetation by burning or cutting in a sea of old, rank vegetation, which has a much lower nutrient value, will result in focusing grazing on these new patches. Grass is the only species that will be able to survive the high level of grazing pressure. The end result will be green islands amongst the older vegetation. See Section 7.2 and Additional Information No. 8.