Recent years have seen the demand for new tracks in the Scottish uplands increase. This good practice guide aims to raise awareness of the effect on our natural heritage of track construction, management and use.
Farming and estate management require tracks, as do new wind farms, hydro schemes and telecommunications infrastructure, and mature conifer plantations. But track construction can affect our landscapes, biodiversity and geodiversity as well as access and recreation.
Upland habitats and landscapes are typically sensitive to change and slow to repair. Lochs, watercourses and wetlands – and their carbon store – must be protected from adverse impacts. Adding tracks can both alter drainage patterns, causing serious erosion and the release of stored carbon, and detract from the wild nature of the land.
In many places, it will be wholly unsuitable to build a new track because of its impacts. Elsewhere, the careful siting, design, construction and maintenance of tracks can reduce the adverse effects on the natural heritage.