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The IUCN UK Peatland Programme advocates the multiple benefits of peatlands through partnerships, strong science, sound policy and effective practice.

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Briefing on burning and peatbogs from the IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands

Prescribed burning is a widely used management tool in the uplands for grouse and livestock production. On sporting estates, burning is used to encourage new heather growth with a varied age structure for grouse, particularly on upland heaths on mineral soils or shallow peat. The Inquiry only addressed burning management on deep peat where the practice is mainly but not exclusively restricted to the East Highlands and Southern Uplands of Scotland and the Pennines. Burning for livestock is widespread, but more sporadic in frequency and less well recorded, though individual burns tend to cover larger areas. Good practice guidance on prescribed burning has been developed in partnership with statutory agencies and moorland managers.


This Review examines the effects of burning management on biodiversity, and attempt to identify species that benefit from those that suffer as a result of burning. The Review Team looks at the impact of burning on water management, on greenhouse gas fluxes, and in particular the change in biomass and the development of char under managed burning, are considered. 

Finally, the Review examines the socio-economic impacts of burning management and the extent to which burning increases grouse production, manages wildfire, whether it can increase sheep production and what the public perception of prescribed burning is.

 Scientific Review

Please note, the views expressed in this review are those of the authors. The IUCN UK Peatland Programme is not responsible for the content of this review and does not necessarily endorse the views contained within.

Review Team

This review is lead by Dr Fred Worall of University of Durham