2013-11-04  facebook twitter rss

Avoiding Problems with Muirburn and Wildlife Legislation

The risks bad muirburn management poses for moorland and the potential of prosecution for landowners whose staff break the law, will be highlighted during a free event planned by experts from SRUC.

The event takes place on Thursday 14th November 2013 in the Boat Inn, Charleston Road, Aboyne from 10.30 am to 2.00pm.



Scotland’s moorlands are iconic landscapes. They draw tourists to view and walk in them and shooters to enjoy the challenge of grouse or deer. One traditional way to maintain this habitat, with its mix of vegetation and heather, is by controlled burning. This muirburn creates the typical patchwork of old and new heather growth which offers varied grazing for sheep and both food and shelter to birds like grouse.

However muirburn has come under increasing scrutiny in recent times. Some fires have got out of control, spreading further than planned, threatening communities, damaging woodland and the underlying peat which can burn slowly for years, releasing large amounts of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. There can be additional impacts on water and wildlife including raptors like Golden Eagle.

From Scotland’s Rural College Dr Alistair Hamilton will share his expertise and considerable experience of good practice in muirburn. He will explain how to avoid getting into difficulties and the necessity of proper control of any fire, especially in an era when carbon management is a high priority.

Alistair Hamilton’s colleague Dr Paul Chapman, from SAC Consulting at Thainstone near Inverurie, will also address issues surrounding wildlife. In particular he will explain the law as it relates to “vicarious liability” introduced in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 2011. This legislation, which has been in place for over a year, means that landowners risk penalties for actions taken by their staff, including, but not only, the persecution of raptors. Paul Chapman believes its full implications are not widely recognised.


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