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New green recovery fund to help manage visitors at nature ‘hotspots’

Community groups, charities and NGOs are being encouraged to apply for a new £200,000 fund to support Scotland’s green recovery, launched by NatureScot.

The NatureScot Better Places Green Recovery Fund will help to identify the local impacts and opportunities of visitor management at nature destinations across the country, boosting Scotland’s green recovery by making the most of increased nature-based tourism.

Scotland’s countryside, coasts and local green spaces have seen unprecedented numbers of visitors since initial lockdown restrictions were relaxed in the summer. And while there are considerable benefits for visitors, local communities and businesses from more people enjoying Scotland’s outdoors and nature, several challenges have also arisen, particularly at our most popular destinations.

These challenges include increasing capacity for higher numbers of visitors at ‘hotspots’, including parking and traffic and management; issues associated with more people camping, such as accommodating more campervans; and tackling the high-profile incidents of littering, wildfires, toileting and general damage to our nature that have hit the headlines this year.

NatureScot is committed to helping everyone to be able to enjoy Scotland’s outdoors and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is designed to help us do this safely and responsibly. The Better Places Green Recovery Fund will also support plans which encourage visitors’ enjoyment and understanding of our special places, making connections with nature and realising the many benefits that Scotland’s countryside, coast and green spaces provide.

Awards of between £5,000 and £20,000 are being offered to successful NGO or community-led projects which will help to plan for the future management of nature sites in a low-impact and sustainable way, improving the experience for both visitors and local communities.

With a closing date for applications of 29 January 2021, NatureScot CEO, Francesca Osowska, is urging eligible groups to submit their proposals as soon as possible.

Francesca said: “This pandemic has affected all of us and for many nature has proved to be a big comfort – literally a breath of fresh air. We expect large numbers of people to be visiting Scotland’s outdoors again in 2021, to enjoy green spaces in our towns and cities as well as our world-renowned countryside. Investing in nature, including in visitor management, is a key part of a green recovery: providing jobs; addressing nature loss; and tackling climate change.

“Our Better Places Green Recovery Fund will help us to identify where and how to prioritise future investment in visitor infrastructure, and the skills needed to build and maintain improvements so that we can all access and enjoy nature easily and safely. We’re asking all eligible groups to submit applications as soon as possible so that this crucial work to support Scotland’s green recovery can get underway and we can make as much progress as possible before the new visitor season is in full swing.”

The new funding will support projects in the preliminary stages of visitor management planning, such as scoping local interests and issues, further development or review of existing plans, and feasibility and design work for infrastructure solutions. Areas which suffer from excessive visitor management pressures will be prioritised.

Projects should be completed by 31 March 2021.

For full information on the Better Places Fund Green Recovery Fund, including an eligibility checklist, examples of the kind of activities that the fund can and can’t support, and how to apply visit the fund webpages at Nature.Scot

Picture: ©Lorne Gill/NatureScot