22 September 2017

GWCT Scotland fired up by Muirburn Code

The launch of Scotland’s Muirburn Code by Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham today poses opportunities and challenges for the land management sector.

Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) Scotland has been part of the process of discussion around the new Code that places the traditional and necessary management tool of muirburn, the burning of heather and grass, in a Scottish Government policy context.

The new Code makes it clear that muirburn continues to have role in stimulating new growth of moorland plant species, such as heather and blaeberry, that benefit, sheep, deer, grouse and hares. The issues that land managers, who use this centuries old technique, now face are how to incorporate this with the Code’s clearly defined interest in soil and water management.

Adam SmithDr Adam Smith, director of GWCT Scotland, pictured right, said: “This new Code is much more policy document than practical guide to doing good things for our game and wildlife with muirburn. While we welcome guidance to protect very deep peat habitats and hydrology, there is a lack of evidence for some assumed negative impacts of fire or positive benefits of not burning, and not enough recognition of the positive role of muirburn for biodiversity and reducing the risk of wildfire. It also seems likely that some of the Code changes will prove challenging to deliver in real world conditions. 

“We welcome assurances that this is a ‘living document’ so we can continue to feedback our experience of muirburn into the Code so it can evolve over the years.”

The launch of the Revised Muirburn Code media release (from the Moorland Forum) is available here.

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

For information, contact:

Playfair Walker
Telephone: 0131 445 5570
Email: richard@playfairwalker.com

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