Scotland’s iconic moorlands and uplands provide services essential to our well-being. Most of Scotland’s moorland is not burnt or cut and does not require burning, but fire and cutting equipment can be useful management tools, when used with skill and understanding. The Scottish Government supports well-managed muirburn, and recognises its potential to reduce the impact of wildfire.  The Review of Sustainable Moorland Management, carried out for SNH’s Scientific Advisory Committee in October 2015, summarised the additional benefits that muirburn provides in scientific terms.  See the extract from the report.

A Mosaic of Fires (Photo credit: The Heather Trust)

The Muirburn Code sets out the issues involved in using fire or cutting machinery in uplands and moorlands, including lowland heaths.

When muirburn is done well, in accordance with this Code, it can provide benefits. When done badly, it can cause significant and lasting damage. Fires escaping from muirburn are a major cause of wildfire in Scotland.  Fires can escape for many reasons including: inadequate firebreaks, staff or equipment, or because muirburn has been undertaken under the wrong conditions.  Improving muirburn techniques to avoid wildfires should be a priority for everyone.

The Code is a guide for practitioners and others with an interest in muirburn.  It aims to set out the statutory restrictions and good practice in a relevant and useful way.

This Code does not provide all the information needed to carry out burning or cutting safely and effectively, and links to other sources of information are provided in the information section.  Training can increase knowledge of fire behaviour, safety requirements and new techniques for the control of fire, even for those with some experience.  There are several providers of training who can be contacted through Scotland’s Moorland Forum.