This guidance aims to allow the managers of upland and moorland areas of Scotland to make informed decisions about how best to manage the heather, and other vegetation, in these areas using cutting on its own, or in conjunction with burning. For simplicity, in this guidance reference is made to heather, but the guidance applies equally to other vegetation types.

Some scientists, NGOs and members of the public, believe that heather management in general, and muirburn in particular, should not be permitted on the grounds that these operations cause the loss of nutrients from the ecosystem, may contribute to air and water pollution and contribute to a perceived loss of wildness in the upland landscape. However, burning and cutting heather remain legal operations, and many landowners and managers believe that these operations are an essential part of their management and the long-term stewardship of the land under their control.