Delivering new Muirburn Practitioner Training

SGA NEWS photo

Two senior SGA members, specialists in controlled burning, have recently developed Bright Spark Burning Techniques: a company offering advice and LANTRA-approved Muirburn Practitioner Training.

In this article, they talk about the collaborative work done in developing the new Muirburn Practitioner Training which is relevant to everyone who uses prescribed burning in Scotland’s countryside, from crofters and farmers to foresters, gamekeepers and environmentalists.

The new training was launched in January and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging everyone who uses prescribed burning to sign up now.


Prescribed Burning and Training


The Scottish Government commissioned Professor Alan Werrity to investigate the roles that grouse moors played in the countryside.  He published his report in 2019.

After his report was published, it was decided that the effects of muirburn had to be investigated further. If prescribed burning was to continue, then there had to be changes to ensure it falls into line with the Muirburn Code.

The practice of Muirburn is burning old vegetation which reduces the fuel load and allows new growth which feeds insects, young birds and mammals. Carried out correctly, It does not burn the peat on moorland and the carbon release is kept to a minimum.  

Soon, a licensing system will come into place, overseen by NatureScot on behalf of the Scottish Government.  When a licensing system is introduced, practitioner training will feature.

A small group was invited by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, consisting of 4 people, one from each of the following groups. NatureScot, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, the Strathdearn and Speyside Moorland Group, and led by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.  The representatives of the SGA and the Moorland Group are also Board Members of the Scottish Wildfire Forum. 

The Group’s remit was to come up with a training package that was fit for purpose.  It had to be user friendly, easily understood by the people who would use it, not be bogged down in technicalities, but have enough new material that all practitioners would realise that the days of bad practice are finished.  A new modern outlook where thought, care and planning are vital when commencing a day’s prescribed burning and risk management is the way forward.

All groups who participate in using fire as a working tool must be brought into the fold, whether it be conservation bodies, farmers, forestry, crofters or sporting estates and the many other industries who will be affected such as windfarms, MOD, railways, etc. 

After about eighteen months work, we have finished the foundation module. It is aimed at anyone who participates in using fire as a working tool. It is split into two sections with the first being an online multiple choice paper, which will be reasonably straight forward to test the knowledge gained by reading the Muirburn Code. This is a mandatory pass section which will lead onto a practical assessment under the instruction of skilled instructors with many years’ practical experience.  Passing both the theory and practical elements of the course will lead to a LANTRA qualification.

Find out more about the course, here:


Refresher courses and further training modules are in the pipeline which will require a greater knowledge and understanding of fire behaviour, right up to participating in helping Scottish Fire and Rescue tackle serious wildfires.

Scotland is unique in that, because of government policy, fuel loads are increasing to record levels and massive wildfires have already taken place.  These will become more frequent because of fuel load and lack of restrictions on public access.  Other fire prone countries e.g. Spain, Portugal, America, France and Canada now have policies of reducing fuel loads and have returned to prescribed burning to achieve this.

The British Isles are lucky, that alongside the Fire and Rescue Service we already have staff and firefighting equipment, predominantly on grouse moors in the countryside, that with this training can be used at a moment’s notice to help in a wildfire situation.

Countryside management has come a long way in understanding the need for training in all aspects of day- to- day work.  This has been further enhanced by Scottish Fire and Rescue and Naturescot in their openminded thinking in using practitioners to design this course. 

Article by Bright Spark Burning Techniques


Bright Spark Burning Techniques:

Bright Spark are leading experts in managing the land through controlled burning. They offer consultancy and are LANTRA approved trainers for the Muirburn Practitioner Training.

Stoney Creek
Stoney Creek
For Farmers the total feed business

Join our mailing list.