Better Places Fund projects update on visitor management activities - 2022
Busy summer for seasonal rangers
The additional ‘boots on the ground’ have been making great strides with addressing visitor management issues this summer. They have been clocking up the miles patrolling key visitor hotspots, engaging with lots of campers, motorhome owners and dog owners, collecting dozens of bags of litter, clearing and restoring hundreds of fire sites, and maintaining paths in a safe and useable condition. Some have also been dealing with issues such as wild fires and wildlife crime, while those on coastal sites have been involved in monitoring and managing the devastating impact of avian flu on breeding seabirds.
As well as direct engagement with visitors, the seasonal staff are making good use of social media to promote responsible access messages and engage with users online. Collaboration between organisations has been key to maximising the impact and reach of the projects, and demonstrating a united approach to tackling irresponsible and anti-social behaviour. The seasonal staff have also mobilised volunteer support to help with litter picks and path maintenance.
Several organisations that were awarded Better Places funding have reported difficulties recruiting seasonal staff, and consequently a few of the posts have not been filled. Other challenges encountered include occasional confrontational and abusive members of the public. Overall though the projects are progressing well, with much positive feedback from local communities and visitors.
To give more insight into the range of action on the ground, below are some examples of activities undertaken by some of the Better Places-funded projects over the last few months:
- Fife Coast & Countryside Trust ran a SOAC awareness training session with P7 pupils in a local community, with the aim of preventing problems over the summer holidays. They have also carried out joint Friday evening patrols with Police Scotland and Safer Communities staff at sites that have previously seen large amounts of irresponsible countryside access.
- Pentland Hills Regional Park rangers have delivered some joint patrolling with Police Scotland as part of Operation Boxy and launched a new Pentland Hills Partnership Against Rural Crime.
- Highland Council seasonal access staff have delivered Water Safety days with SFRS and RNLI on Loch Ness and Arisaig.
- West Lothian Council ranger service has organised and led four "Wild Wednesday" events aimed at families, in partnership with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Police Scotland, Home Energy Scotland, RSPB, "Ziggy's big day out (Scottish Government’s road safety campaign), Love to Ride and the Council’s Waste team.
- NTS seasonal ranger at Ben Lomond has particularly engaged with visitors about the dangers of fire and how they start, following a large wild fire that affected 55 hectares. Their seasonal ranger at Glencoe & Glen Etive has repaired fences and gates damaged for firewood, and repaired verges damaged by off-roading, in the aftermath of busy weekends.
- Islay Development Trust has removed and disposed of 2000 dead seabirds on beaches, following DEFRA guidance.