If you were out walking earlier on today you may have seen a little bit of smoke coming from Morte Point. This is all part of a planned programme of management for the gorse on Morte Point. Burning is a traditional form of management for controling gorse. Weather conditions have to be dry with a gentle breeze and in the case of Morte Point blowing offshore. The burning season ends at the end of March but for uplands areas such as Exmoor areas can be burnt until the 15th April. By restricting burning to the winter months you have minimal impact on wildlife as birds have yet to start nesting and reptiles are such as Adders and Common Lizards are yet to emerge from winter hibernation.
By burning the gorse areas will become more open which sheep can then graze, the gorse will regrow but in patches and not dense blocks and it is this smaller patch work of gorse which has greater value for wildlife. Alot of gorse on Morte Point is old and leggy and this has less value to certain wildife species than more vigorous dense younger gorse which the fire will help encourage. Fire helps create a break in seed dormancy of the gorse and will promote a vigorous growth. Today’s burn was very successful, under full control despite the huge flames and although rather black at the moment, will soon green up and become a haven for wildlife.