New campaign asks for visitors help to protect the places we all love.
The National Trust for Scotland is urging visitors to ‘Love this place, leave no trace’ in a new campaign which aims to protect areas of scenic beauty and encourage visitors and campers to minimise their impact on these places.
Scotland’s national conservation charity launched the campaign today (June 23) in a bid to address some of the serious issues faced at the properties and wild locations it cares for.
Over the past year, when lockdown restrictions have lifted, National Trust for Scotland staff have been delighted to welcome record numbers of visitors to world-renowned areas of natural beauty, such as Torridon, Kintail and West Affric.
People have been able to explore and discover the treasures on their own doorstep with the national conservation charity, which for 90 years has cared for and protected many of the country’s most loved places, following Government advice on Covid-19 and social distancing.
With international travel still uncertain, Trust staff and volunteers anticipate high levels of visitor numbers in the months ahead.
The cumulative effect of large numbers of people visiting the countryside can lead to unintended damage and the Trust has addressed this in recent months with campaigns highlighting the impact on local wildlife and ecosystems and providing advice on how to visit safely and responsibly.
However, staff have witnessed a rise in anti-social behaviour which is endangering the natural environment, harming local communities, and having a devastating effect on long-term conservation projects.
Fences and trees have been uprooted and used for firewood.
Trust teams have been forced to deal with an unprecedented rise in littering and both human and animal waste. Livestock and wildlife have been attacked and ‘worried’ by dogs running loose and irresponsible parking has seriously impact on the landscape and local people.
The charity is now launching a new campaign urging people to ‘Love this place, leave no trace’ and raise vital funds for clean-up efforts at locations like Torridon, Kintail and West Affric and also help people understand how to minimise their impact on these beautiful places.
Will Boyd-Wallis, Operations Manager for North West explained:
“Irresponsible camping has become an issue throughout the glen at Torridon.
“Our rangers have found visitors not properly disposing of litter or human waste, chopping down young trees and lighting fires in the woods.
“There is a risk of a serious wildfire like the one we suffered in 2011, where six people had to be airlifted to safety and an area of 9 square miles was devastated.
“Campfires can be a real danger at Torridon as there are heavily wooded areas.
“This campaign can also help fund more patrols in the area, encouraging visitors to use a stove or wear an extra jumper if they’re feeling cold rather than risk lighting a fire.”
The Munro haven of Torridon and the magnificent Five Sisters of Kintail, which has been in the care of the Trust since 1944, has seen a dramatic rise in ‘dirty campers’.
Willie Fraser, Ranger at Kintail and West Affric detailed:
“There are bothies throughout the glens at Kintail to be used responsibly by walkers.
“Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case recently.
“We’ve had people use our buildings as public toilets, making no effort to clear up after themselves.
“We’ve also found that people have left their camping equipment, litter and food waste behind.
“As some of our bothies are over 10 miles from the road, clearing up is no easy task.”
“In truth, it takes an enormous amount of work to conserve Scotland’s iconic mountains, woodlands and coastlines, which we all love.
“As a charity, we can only protect these places with your support.”
The National Trust for Scotland is urging people to get out and visit the locations and properties it cares for responsibly.
To help, rangers have drawn up ten top tips – which you can read below.
The Top Ten Tips from National Trust for Scotland rangers to ‘Love this place, leave no trace’
1. COME PREPARED WITH A PLAN B
Move on if it’s too busy or car parks are full.
2. PARK WITH CARE
Please do not damage verges or obstruct other vehicles, narrow roads, passing places or field gates.
3. LEAVE NO TRACE
Take your litter home and never leave rubbish beside a full bin.
4. STAY ON PATHS TO HELP PROTECT HABITATS
By avoiding bypassing muddy patches, you’ll reduce the risk of erosion spreading.
5. REMEMBER FOOTPATH ETIQUETTE
Need to let someone past? Step to one side, then step back onto the path again.
6. THINK YOU MAY NEED TO ‘GO’ WHILE YOU’RE OUT?
Come prepared with a bag and sealable container to take away human waste and soiled tissues safely.
7. CHOOSE YOUR CAMPING SPOT CAREFULLY
Give busy areas a rest and take as long to clear up as you take to set up.
8. USE A STOVE INSTEAD OF LIGHTING A FIRE
This will help prevent wildfires, scorched earth and tree damage.
9. KEEP DOGS UNDER CONTROL OR ON A LEAD
This ensures your dog will avoid disturbing wildlife or livestock.
10. LEAVE SOMEWHERE EVEN BETTER THAN WHEN YOU FOUND IT
Bring a litter picker and collect rubbish while you’re out.
Have a great time exploring Scotland’s beautiful landscapes.
Please share these tips with your family and friends!