As some of you may have noticed, particularly those of you who were West of Countisbury last Tuesday, we have started our annual regime of gorse and heather burning on West Exmoor
We pick patches of gorse and heather based on their age mainly, and we aim to burn approximately 60% of our total heathland in rotation of 15 years. We leave approx 40% of the heath to naturally ‘over mature’, that is to say we never burn it. It may get burnt by wild fires and if this occurs we will take this into account when planning future burns.
The 15 year rotation breaks up the age structure of the heathland, providing numerous different age habitats in a patchwork, which in turn benefits different species. It also allows species to migrate to different areas as and when new areas become beneficial.
Uncontrolled wild fires burn large areas and destroy the valuable age structure needed for biodiversity. Because of this the area and size of the burn is strictly controlled and authorised by Natural England, and carried out in accordance with guidelines. Before burning commences the emergency services are informed and also Exmoor National Park Authority.
We have more burns to do this winter if the weather allows, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re in the area. If you do see burning taking place please take care and seek advice from those who are managing the fire if you wish to pass by.