AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Burning and cutting heather

Burning

Burning heather is an effective way of encouraging regeneration of the moorland. Heather seed lies dormant in the soil and, during burning, the heat and smoke crack the seed and promote germination. Areas of old heather that are burnt regenerate in the first year with bilberry, quickly followed by heather which grows vigorously into a carpet.

You must follow the Heather and Grass Burning Code. This states that burning can only take place between October 1st and March 31st to avoid disturbing ground-nesting birds and reduce the risk of wild fires. In practice this means there are very few days each year when burning can happen. You also need at last four people to burn safely so it’s quite a labour-intensive activity.

Burning heather

Burning does get easier the more management you undertake. New burns can be aimed at previously managed areas which act as a fire break, reducing the risk of wild fire. Because proper moorland management creates a diverse age structure in the heather, the chances of wild fire spreading are reduced. Both cuts and burns act as excellent fire breaks.

Cutting

Cutting heather is a useful alternative to burning. A single person in any weather can do it and the area of the cuts can be easily managed. However, the vegetation tends to regenerate more slowly compared with burning and there will be more bilberry in the mix.

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