Posted by Ridgeline Sales

Preparing for next August

Although the grouse shooting season doesn't finish till the 10th December, most estates and moors have already stopped shooting and are getting on with the task of preparing for next August.

Here we are already well underway with habitat improvement. Heather burning is the main task at the moment as we take advantage of some dry weather.

Heather burning is a vital part of upland management. We want to encourage a patchwork of heather on the moor, ensuring the ground nesting birds have everything they need; heather for food, heather for cover, heather for nesting.

If all the heather is old and long it has very little nutritional value and also the grouse and other birds can't reach the top couple of millimetres of the plant which they need for food.  

If all the heather is very short it might be great for food, but offers no cover for the birds. 

This does not just benefit grouse! Despite what people might tell you, heather moorland is not a totally wild landscape.  

We have pressure from grazing and tourism and changing climate. As such we have to look after and cultivate the heather. It will not just take care of itself! 

There is controversy over the affect heather burning has on the water course. Well, we have a saying; "the wetter the better"! There is plenty of work that goes on to ensure the moor stays wet and blanket bog isn't damaged. As with all things, there are many lies spread about the damage gamekeepers do and those with a political agenda tend to ignore all the positives (and facts!) and search instead for a negative 

If we just left the heather and stopped the shooting and conservation work, all that would be left is rank old heather which as it does off would be swamped by bracken and grass.  

Given that around 70% of all heather moorland world wide is in the UK, we have a duty, a responsibility, a moral incentive to look after it and ensure we have a healthy level of moor for generations to come 

We have pressure from grazing and tourism and changing climate. As such we have to look after and cultivate the heather. It will not just take care of itself!