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Estates welcome the launch of new Muirburn Code

Scottish Land & Estates has welcomed the launch of the new Muirburn Code, an important publication in the management of Scotland’s uplands.

Launched today at Blair Atholl by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, the new code has been produced by Scotland’s Moorland Forum with input from a wide range of stakeholders.

Muirburn is a land management tool used to control vegetation on uplands and provides a range of benefits for wildlife and grazing. It is also one of the most effective means of significantly reducing the risk of wildfires across both agricultural land and moorland, and is practised by crofters, farmers and gamekeepers.

Anne Gray, Senior Policy Officer at Scottish Land & Estates said: “The launch of an updated Muirburn Code is an important step in our continual drive to ensure Scotland’s uplands are managed in the most effective way possible.

“Scottish Land & Estates has been part of the collaborative group, working through Scotland’s Moorland Forum, which has reviewed the old Muirburn Code and played a part in drawing up this new version. Since that time, the expertise and input of our members has been vital in establishing the code launched today.  

“A code regulating muirburn in Scotland has been in place since 1424, and the drive for a refresh of the 2011 version was accelerated by multiple wildfires which occurred in the north-west Highlands in 2013. 

“Muirburn is a powerful tool that must be used carefully by people who have the necessary skill and experience and there is a desire to keep improving their knowledge and techniques to ensure best practice is maintained.

“We would have liked to have seen this new version contain greater practical guidance on how to carry out muirburn safely rather than the code functioning primarily as a policy document. However, there is an opportunity for stakeholders to look at a practitioners’ guide more closely to ensure crofters, farmers and gamekeepers have access to the latest advice on muirburn techniques.

“Muirburn brings environmental benefits, particularly in providing the right habitat for endangered upland birds such as curlew and golden plover, and the only native bird found only in UK uplands, the red grouse.  Muirburn and grazing also prevents the reversion of moorland to scrub woodland, whereupon those precious open moorland species would be lost forever.”


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