Wild Land Management Services John Muir Trust
6. Minimise exposure, burning & grazing

Removing vegetation exposes soil to the air where it’s vulnerable to damage. Wind and water cause soil erosion, removing the organic layers and the potential to re-vegetate. Organic soils that are exposed to the air also release stored CO2.

Soil can also become exposed through overgrazing. The level of grazing that can lead to exposed soil varies depending on the type and sensitivity of the habitat. High altitude habitats can take a lot of time to recover and are vulnerable to high levels of herbivore grazing. See Deer & livestock for more on this.

Muirburning can be damaging to both habitats and the underlying soil, potentially causing oxidisation and erosion. In principle, burning should be avoided for visual and environmental reasons. However, where benefits to habitats can be demonstrated through burning, the practices described in government guidance and codes should be treated as a minimum standard of environmental protection.

Careful stewardship of the rocks and soils on which land use depends
Light touch, minimum intervention and disturbance


  • Minimise burning