With the COVID-19 five-mile travel restriction now lifted, Forestry and Land Scotland has been joined by land managers, environmental experts and campaigners in calling on the Scottish public to help prevent a repeat of the recent shameful scenes of littering.
FLS has called for more responsible behaviour – and for members of the public to remember that while many car parks and beauty spots are now open, waste collection services may not yet be operational.
Their plea is backed by Zero Waste Scotland, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Scottish Water, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Natural Heritage and Cairngorms National Park Authority.
It is hoped that this early appeal will encourage people to think carefully about when and where they want to travel to and that they will be considerate of local communities, other visitors and land management staff and take their litter home.
Simon Hodgson, Forestry and Land Scotland Chief Executive, said;
“Although the travel limit has now been lifted, we are still in the process of getting staff back to work with new, safe-working practices that comply with the Scottish Government guidance.
“Many of our contractors are in the same boat so waste collection services might not yet be operational.
“And while many FLS car parks are now open, the toilets at some of our sites are not.
“So as Scotland gets re-accustomed to travelling further afield for leisure pursuits, we are appealing to the public to help avoid repeats of the selfish, irresponsible behaviour that over the past few weeks has seen many sites swamped by litter – or even despoiled by human waste.
“This sort of anti-social behaviour not only creates a significant health hazard but also eats in to the limited resources that land managers have at their disposal.
“We would urge people to first of all think carefully about their travel plans, and secondly to behave like people who are proud to be able to call such a beautiful country home: don’t visit sites until they are open and take your litter home.”
As FLS returns to work in line with the Forestry Sector Restart and Resilience Plan, it has prioritised activities such as wildlife management, top-up spraying and ground preparation.
However, together with other land management organisations, it has started a phased reopening with most car parks now open, and some mountain bike trails.
Mr Hodgson added:
“The sad thing is, many of the people responsible for the littering would say they were proud to live in Scotland, and yet as we have seen over the past few weeks, they treat our beautiful countryside in this contemptible manner.
“It’s not acceptable.”
Barry Fisher, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, added:
“Littering is illegal and unacceptable at any time.
“But now, when we are living through a health pandemic, it is really not ok to drop litter, to leave it in a park or on a beach, and to expect someone else to have to clear it up.
“Our message is clear – bin it, and if you can’t, take it home!”
Brian McCarthy, Scottish Water’s reservoir manager, said:
“Anti-social behaviour is an issue at some of our reservoirs and we support FLS’ call for people to behave responsibly and leave no trace by taking litter home and disposing of it appropriately.”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:
“With limited access available to activities and facilities, our areas of beauty are more important than ever before for people to enjoy some exercise and fresh air.
“We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful country and ask people not to spoil the enjoyment of everyone else.
“People who litter are committing a criminal offence, are often risking our safety and polluting our environment.
“There are no excuses, if you take it out with you, bin it or take it home when you are done.”
Nik Turner, Litter Prevention Manager for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said:
“While this is not an entirely new problem, the move out of lockdown has seen large numbers of people disregarding guidance by heading to crowded beauty spots, with a minority leaving behind huge amounts of litter and waste.
“Littering is not acceptable anywhere, least of all in the most scenic parts of our country where people come to enjoy the landscapes and nature.
“We want the National Park to be a place everyone can enjoy – not to be people’s dump.
“It is incredibly frustrating to have to spend significant amounts of time and money collecting litter when this problem could be completely avoided if people simply put their litter in bins or took it home with them.”
Francesca Osowska, Scottish Natural Heritage Chief Exec, said:
“We are truly blessed in Scotland with our stunning national parks, nature reserves and trails and it’s up to everyone to help keep them that way, so we urge everyone to take all of their rubbish away with them and to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
“Even a small piece of litter dropped can have devastating consequences for our wildlife on land, in the air and in our seas.
“So please take it home and as well as keeping Scotland beautiful, you could also could be saving a life.”
Grant Moir CEO, Cairngorms National Park Authority said:
“People come to the Cairngorms for the beautiful landscapes, scenery and the peace and quiet.
“Since the Coronavirus pandemic we have seen an increase in visitors who are new to the Park and we have worked hard to promote how people can enjoy the Park safely and responsibly.
“How visitors behave makes a huge difference to ensure everyone can enjoy the Park so we ask that people are considerate towards each other, to nature and our local communities – in particular please take your litter home.”