Continuing our love affair with Scotland’s countryside – safely and responsibly

A new campaign launched today (Thursday, July 16) is encouraging people to enjoy the great outdoors safely and responsibly.

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 2:35 pm
The newly published Scottish Outdoor Access Code is designed to allow the public to enjoy the countryside while protecting public health and the environment. Photo: SWNS

Research carried out in May on behalf of Scottish Natural Heritage shows that compliance with lockdown restrictions has been good with 95 per cent of people saying they only went outdoors locally.

With travel restrictions being lifted more people are enjoying parks, nature reserves and trails. The newly published Scottish Outdoor Access Code is designed to allow this to continue while protecting public health and the environment.

The code includes reminders to plan ahead and avoid busy places, follow physical distancing, respect nature and local communities,  keep dogs under control especially on farmland, be careful of fire hazards and take all litter away.

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Since restrictions began to ease there have been incidents of antisocial behaviour in nature reserves and parks with images of the resultant mess appearing on social media.

SNH chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “We very much want this love affair with Scotland’s great outdoors and nature to continue. But let’s not spoil it for others.

“We need be kind to nature and respectful to each other by clearing up after ourselves and taking all of our litter home with us. The scenes of abandoned campsites, burned out trees, human waste, as well as litter, are totally unacceptable and a blight on Scotland’s reputation.”

Around half of the people who answered the survey said they intended to visit outdoors locations more frequently than before the pandemic. Many people are also expected to replace cancelled foreign holidays with breaks at locations in Scotland,  and the government’s advice is to have a backup plan in case the place you intended to visit is busier than exoected.

All the current guidance can be found on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website which also includes information about a wide range of activities from sports to camping.

Francesca added: “If we all follow Scottish Government advice and the Scottish Outdoor Access code, we will be doing our bit to ensure that Scotland’s outdoors remains beautiful and that Covid-19 restrictions can continue to be relaxed.”