Better Places Fund projects update on visitor management activities - 2023
Seasonal rangers making a positive impact at the start of the summer visitor season
An additional 62 pairs of boots have hit the ground running to manage visitor pressures this summer. Camping and fires have been the key focus of most of these seasonal rangers, especially during the hot and dry weather in June, with water safety also being a key concern at certain locations.
As well as speaking with visitors, the seasonal staff are using signage and social media to promote responsible access messages. Many of the seasonal staff have also been working closely with local communities, neighbouring ranger services landowners and other organisations to maximise their impact.
Below are examples of activities undertaken by Better Places-funded projects over the last few months:
- Pentland Hills Regional Park rangers have engaged with several thousand visitors, particularly about fires, camping and water safety, dealt with dozens of abandoned tents and fire sites, and helped at a number of emergencies.
- East Lothian Council seasonal rangers are particularly focusing on the impacts of their new parking management measures and camper engagement due to ongoing issues of large numbers of campers and other users visiting sites, many of whom are not behaving responsibly.
- Highland Council seasonal access rangers have been busy patrolling popular visitor sites across the Highlands, undertaking site maintenance and liaising with community groups and landowners.
- NTS seasonal rangers at Ben Lawers, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Glencoe & Glen Etive, North Perthshire and Torridon have been greeting visitors in the car parks and promoting responsible access, undertaking trail patrols and routine site maintenance, leading public engagement activities and dealing with a range of incidents including fires and storm-damaged paths.
- JMT seasonal rangers at Ben Nevis, Sandwood and Skye have been dealing with landslips, managing fire risk issues, and carrying out visitor surveys.
- RSPB Abernethy seasonal rangers have been regularly patrolling busy routes on the Cairngorm plateau, engaging with hundreds of visitors to raise awareness of vulnerable wildlife, plus also assisting with conservation and volunteer work parties. Meanwhile, their Loch Lomond & Inversnaid seasonal rangers have been undertaking events for groups such as Red Cross young refugees, as well as daily patrols and maintaining visitor facilities.
- Nevis Landscape Partnership seasonal rangers have been working closely alongside the John Muir Trust to tackle hot spots at Steall gorge and meadows, along the Ben Nevis mountain path and summit, the all-ability path, Roaring Mill, Curling Ponds, Paddy’s Bridge and Lower Falls Car Park. They have also been stationed at Conservation Corner and the Red Burn on Ben Nevis to engage with visitors about the importance of staying on the path and avoiding cutting across the Site of Special Scientific Interest.
- Jahama Highland Estates seasonal rangers have been working closely with organisations to ensure that large-scale events meet environmental obligations on designated sites, and have also done a great job clearing a large number of fire pits and educating visitors about wild camping responsibly.
- Cashel Forest Trust seasonal rangers have produced display materials to communicate messages about responsible outdoor access and also promoted visitors’ understanding and care for the site through developing new self-led activities and organising events. Cashel is promoted as an alternative location to the popular Conic Hill and offers additional parking on the very popular and busy east side of Loch Lomond.
- Arran Access Trust’s seasonal rangers removed over 300kg of litter along a 4km stretch of coastline between Brodick ferry terminal and Clauchlands Points, with able assistance from the COAST Explorer crew.
- Mull & Iona Community Trust visitor engagement ranger has spoken with scores of visitors about responsible wildlife watching and access issues, also met with some tour operators, local residents, and business owners to discuss wildlife issues, promoted responsible wildlife watching via an article in the local newspaper and drafted Otter watching code of conduct.
- Community Land Outer Hebrides seasonal wardens have resolved cases of inappropriate parking (for example, engaged with visitors parking on verges and in passing places and encouraged responsible parking by referencing the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and the Outer Hebrides Tourism ‘Special PLACE’ campaign). They have also developed a visitor survey to better understand visitors’ views and potential barriers to SOAC compliance.