Many of Scotland’s most popular natural sites are to receive a staffing boost this summer, with Scottish Government funding of almost £1.5 million to support better visitor management and help safeguard the environment for visitors and local communities.
The NatureScot Better Places Green Recovery funding will go directly to 48 countryside, coast and island projects across Scotland, enabling an additional 94 rangers and 15 visitor operations staff to be employed this summer across Scotland.
The extra ‘boots on the ground’ will promote the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) and help manage visitor pressure in the North and West Highlands, the islands and the NC500; Highland Perthshire; Cairngorms National Park; Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park; East Lothian, the Pentland Hills and a variety of other locations across Scotland such as the Aberdeenshire and Moray beaches and Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway.
Funding has been awarded to 35 organisations – 10 community groups, 13 local authorities, nine voluntary sector bodies, two countryside trusts and one private company.
It complements additional investment in rangers and visitor operations made this year by NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, the National Park Authorities and Scottish Water to support the management of busy outdoor places such as the National Nature Reserves, Parks, reservoirs and forests.
Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:
“It is great to see and hear the breadth of organisations that are receiving support from this funding.
“The Scottish Government is in constant dialogue with relevant parties about the challenges caused by large numbers of campervans and wild campers in key hot spot areas and it’s clear that the countryside rangers are having a significant positive impact in educating and encouraging visitors on how they can enjoy the countryside responsibly.
“This not only preserves our scenery and landscape, it also takes the pressure off our local communities and provides an informative welcome to incoming visitors.”
Bridget Jones, NatureScot’s Paths and Projects Manager, said:
“This staffing boost to support the management of Scotland’s busiest and most popular natural and scenic areas is great news for everyone this summer.
“Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife are one of our biggest visitor attractions and with this investment we can connect people with nature and help everyone responsibly enjoy some of the country’s most spectacular locations, while ensuring that we protect and respect the places we visit.”
A similar scheme funded 127 seasonal staff last year, and made a significant difference to addressing irresponsible parking, camping, fires, toileting and litter issues in many rural and coastal areas popular with staycationing tourists.
Its success in improving visitor experiences, and reducing visitor impacts on local communities and the environment, led to the further funding allocated for seasonal staffing in 2022.
Complementing the face-to-face engagement with visitors, VisitScotland and partner organisations will be using social media, local radio and digital marketing to educate, inspire and inform people about issues related to visiting nature hotspots this summer, such as water safety, fire safety, dog control and wildlife disturbance.
The overall aim is that visitors respect, protect and enjoy Scotland’s outdoors this summer.