Out-of-season heather-burning licences have been awarded to two of Bell Ingram?s managed estates in Perthshire, Scottish Natural Heritage has announced.

Under previous legislation, muirburn ? the practice of burning off old growth on a heather moor to encourage new growth, which provides ground-nesting birds such as curlew, red and blackgrouse and hen harriers with vital shelter and cover ? could only be carried out from October to April.

But new rules introduced under the 2011 Wildlife and Natural Environment Act include the option to conduct muirburn under licence outside this period. The estates say they will conduct a five-year research project into the effects of September muirburn on heather moorland habitats.

Bell Ingram?s Charlotte Gilfillan said: ?The majority of burning commonly takes place in March and April, but recent findings have suggested that burning in September could be more beneficial to bird species such as red and blackgrouse.

The rest of this article appears in the 10th October issue of Shooting Times.

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