SNH issues wildfire warning and guidelines

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Scottish Natural Heritage is warning people about the dangers of wildfires.
Burning heather moorland or rough grazing in spring is a traditional land management practice that has been used for generations to promote new growth to improve grazing.
However, SNH has issued a reminder about the potential dangers of uncontrolled burning, which can damage properties, conservation sites and harm nesting birds and reduce biodiversity.
Wildfires are also costly and time-consuming to control, taking up valuable time and resources  from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Therefore, says SNH, the muirburn code, legislation governing such burning, must be strictly adhered to, with burnings only permitted between October 1 and April 15.
The code recommends notifying neighbours of any planned burning and also the fire and rescue service on 01382 835804 – telephone the previous evening or on the morning of the day of burning.
Fires should also not exceed 50m/165ft wide or burn uphill or on slopes.
Sites traditionally used by specially-protected bird species or blanketed in fog should also be avoided.
Keith Duncan, SNH operations officer based in Aviemore, who also has a role with wildlife crime, said: ‘Out-of-control fires have damaged habitats on sites of special scientific interest in Lochaber.
‘As well as being a wildlife crime, it can take many years for some of these important habitats to recover and during that time spoil people’s enjoyment of these special places.’
PC Hugo Martin who is based in Mallaig and whose role includes wildlife crime, said: ‘Out-of-control fires on moorland may cause safety issues for surrounding homes and vil­lages as well as protected species of wildlife. I urge all people responsible for muirburning to have adequate staff to safely manage their fires and closely follow the muirburn code.’
If you see or suspect someone acting suspiciously, recklessly or irresponsibly in the countryside, contact Police Scotland on 101 or you can pass information anonymously to Scotland Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.