In October the RSPB published a report warning that current muirburn practices (e.g. setting the moors alight as part of grouse moor ‘management’) are incompatible with Scotland’s net zero ambitions because of the importance of peatlands as carbon stores (see here). The report also provided evidence that the current voluntary Muirburn Code is not working.
[Look at the state of this! Muirburn on a grouse moor. The photographer wishes to remain anonymous]
In November 2020, the (then) Rural Affairs and Natural Environment Minister, Mairi Gougeon MSP gave an official statement to the Scottish Parliament in response to the independent Grouse Moor Management Group (Werritty) Report. She said:
‘In future muirburn will only be permitted under licence from NatureScot, regardless of the time of year it is undertaken. And there will be a statutory ban on burning on peatland, except under licence for strictly limited purposes such as habitat restoration.’
To coincide with the RSPB’s damning report on muirburn published in October, they also launched a new App where members of the public could report sightings of current fires or where they’d seen evidence of recent burning. The RSPB is interested in fires that have been lit for agricultural and sporting purposes (i.e. grouse moor management).
This information is critical for the RSPB’s advocacy team to ensure that muirburn is licensed and muirburn on deep peatland soils is banned. Information from Scotland and England is very welcome.
The App can be utilised directly on the hill and there is now also a facility for information to be submitted to the RSPB from a computer at home. Please visit the RSPB’s webpage here for further information.