Investment in nature reserves and rangers

24 March 2021

Funding of £750,000 is being invested in NatureScot’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs) in preparation for visitors this summer.

More than a million people are estimated to have visited one of the nature agency’s 29 National Nature Reserves in 2020, a record number that is expected to increase this year.

With coronavirus restrictions set to be eased at the end of April and a very busy spring and summer expected, preparations are in full swing.

The Scottish Government funding will support visitor management on NNRs, including improving and maintaining paths, signs, toilets and visitor centres.

Up to 20 additional rangers and other staff are also being recruited to welcome people back and help them to respect, protect and enjoy our great outdoors.

Ben Ross, NatureScot’s Head of Protected Areas and Nature Reserves, said: “After what has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, we’re looking forward to being able to welcome people back to our beautiful nature reserves as soon as it is safe to do so.

“It’s great to see that more and more people are discovering the outdoors and the value of connecting with the wonderful landscapes and nature we are lucky to have here on the doorstep in Scotland.

“The huge increase in numbers has inevitably led to some challenges however, particularly in “hot spot” areas. This investment will help us to better meet those challenges to ensure that everyone can enjoy and get the best out of what we have to offer.”

Ben’s top tips:

  • Follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – you have rights but also responsibilities too.
  • Plan in advance for your trip. Some places might be busy so have a back-up plan ready.
  • ‘Go’ before you go as toilets might not be open. If you are on a longer trip, be prepared to take any waste home with you.
  • If you are camping use a camping stove to help us prevent wildfires.
  • Try not to disturb any wildlife you see. Lots of birds nest on or near to the ground so keep a good distance if you spot any.
  • Litter is dangerous for wildlife – make sure to take it all away with you.

The investment is among a range of work NatureScot is undertaking to improve visitor management and infrastructure and help people to enjoy the outdoors more responsibly this spring and summer, including:

  • Developing with Visit Scotland and other partners Scotland’s first national Visitor Management Strategy, to improve the infrastructure and services for visitor management and to promote responsible behaviours by visitors.
  • Leading the Better Places Green Recovery Fund, helping to distribute £2.75 million in Scottish Government funding to help communities and local authorities improve visitor management in 'hot spot' locations across Scotland by putting in place seasonal rangers and small scale infrastructure for the coming season.
  • Promoting responsible behaviour in the outdoors through a national digital campaign to raise awareness of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
  • Working with members of the Ranger Development Partnership to provide training for rangers to deal with visitor management issues and scoping ranger placements and apprenticeships to bring more young people into the ranger workforce
  • Providing funding to support 11 community and estate ranger services across Scotland and the work of the Nevis Landscape Partnership.
  • Publishing Connecting people and places – a policy statement on rangering in Scotland, which sets out a collective 2030 vision for rangering in Scotland with the aim of achieving the strong, confident and committed rangering workforce necessary to connect people with places, encourage more people from all backgrounds to enjoy Scotland’s outdoors responsibly, and to take the action needed to address biodiversity loss and climate change.