Many of Scotland’s most popular natural sites are receiving a staffing boost this summer, with Scottish Government funding of £900,000 to support better visitor management and help safeguard the environment for visitors and local communities.
The NatureScot Better Places funding will go directly to 24 countryside, coast and island projects across Scotland, enabling an additional 62 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 Shetland, Glencoe, the Pentlands, Loch Lomond, Arran, NC500, and various locations around East Lothian, North Perthshire, Islay and many more.
Funding has been awarded to 18 organisations – seven countryside trusts, five local authorities, four charities, one community group, one not-for-profit organisation and one private company (details in Notes below).
This 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.
Bridget Jones, NatureScot’s Recreation and Paths Manager, said:
“The Better Places Fund supports rangers to promote responsible enjoyment and manage some of the busiest and most popular areas.
“We want to help people have positive and memorable experiences as they visit and enjoy Scotland’s dramatic landscapes of beaches, mountains, lochs and woodlands.
“But as we tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, we have to ensure that the country’s most spectacular locations are valued and cared for, so that they are there for future generations.”
A similar scheme funded 109 seasonal staff last year, and made a significant difference to tackling 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 2023.
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.