Forests are 'not just for our benefit', says national agency in plea to visitors
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
Members of the public are being urged to cause as little disturbance as possible when visiting forests and to remember that these areas are "not just for our benefit".
The plea was made by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), the Scottish Government agency responsible for managing national forests and land, as part of its bid to help halt biodiversity loss.
The agency says it is looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Scotland’s national forests and land during the summer holidays, with more than 300 destinations to choose from.
However, it says visitor access needs to be balanced with habitat protection and minimising the potential impact that large numbers of people can have on biodiversity.
FLS environment manager Colin Edwards said: “As the largest provider of outdoor recreation in Scotland, we annually welcome millions of visits from people looking to enjoy some of the best locations in the country.
“However, the land that we manage is also home to many thousands of species, some of which are rare or threatened with extinction.
“These can range from plants such as twinflower, butterflies such as the pearl-bordered fritillary, animals such as red squirrels and many species of ground-nesting birds, such as capercaillie.
“Clearly not all of these species are found everywhere and we don’t expect that everyone should know in detail where particular species are found.
“That’s why we’re simply asking everyone to be aware that the forests and land are there not just for our benefit and to behave appropriately and cause minimal disturbance, especially in spring and early summer when there are many young animals and birds in the forest.
“With the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, people can take responsible access whether there is a formal trail or not, but off-trail activities are more of a problem for wildlife. By staying on formal trails visitors can be assured that their access is responsible.”
Visitors should take their litter home for proper disposal. In areas where protected or endangered species are known to live, visitors should stick to official trails and paths, and keep dogs on the leash.