Coronavirus: Scottish land managers told to stop muiburn burning

Muirburn is the traditional way to manage moorland and has been practised for centuries in Scotland
Muirburn is the traditional way to manage moorland and has been practised for centuries in Scotland

Scottish land managers are being urged not to undertake muirburn during the Covid-19 crisis to help ensure no additional strain on public services.

Muirburn season, the burning of the heather and stubble on a moor, ends this year on 15 April.

The practice is strictly regulated and is seen as an essential tool to manage moorland, bringing with it benefits including enhancing biodiversity and conservation.

However, after a risk assessment shows conditions are safe for burning, the Scottish Land & Estates said there could still be an 'very small risk' of a fire getting out of control.



This could divert emergency resources from elsewhere and put others at risk, the rural group said.

During the virus pandemic, fire services potentially would not be available and so a wildfire may not be controlled, or an ambulance or hospital bed may not be available to treat anyone injured, it added.



Tim Baynes, Director of Moorland at Scottish Land & Estates said: “We are urging land managers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season.

"Even though the risk of the fire getting out of control is very small, we want to be absolutely 100% certain that there is no additional call on the fire or ambulance service and the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The moorland management sector has a strong record of skill and safety when doing muirburn, and estates often make an important contribution to public safety by supporting the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service as first responders to wildfires."

He said putting back the muirburn programme will have 'consequences', urging land managers to keep a record of muirburn foregone because of the current situation.