What is Moorland?


Moorland is a dynamic expression of wild nature, although much of it is managed by people; it is the epitome of a cultural landscape. Globally, heather moorland is virtually confined to Britain and Ireland, where great tracts are managed principally through muirburn (rotational burning) and grazing for agriculture, field sports and amenity interests. This has maintained distinctive landscapes rich in wildlife.

Open, semi-natural habitats with dwarf shrub heaths are moorland. These areas typically occur above enclosed farmland and reach up to around the climatic treeline (where the heaths become 'alpine' or 'montane'). At the extremities of Scotland, much moorland extends over terrain close to sea level, where it intermixes with farmland. Moorland includes dry and wet heaths, blanket bogs, rough grasslands and the many habitats associated with these. Some bird and animal groups occur in Scotland's moors at higher density or diversity than anywhere else.

As a whole, the area of moorland covers some 38% of Scotland (3 million hectares). Two UK Habitat Action Plans embrace moorland: Upland heathlands, and Blanket bogs.


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