RSPB Scotland Abernethy Community Woodland Rangers

£14,645 awarded

Reflecting behavioural changes seen across Scotland, the Abernethy nature reserve saw a large & very concentrated increase in visitor numbers in 2021.  Many of these visitors simply didn’t know how to make the most of their visit or how to minimise the potential damage to the reserve, it’s very rare flora & fauna or the surrounding local communities, which their visit could cause.  A pilot programme of community woodland rangers was trialled over the peak visitor months (May to August 2021 inclusive) whereby visitors were met personally, given advice about how to make the most of their visit & how to minimise any negative consequences.  Additionally, the community woodland rangers helped with the practical upkeep of the reserve & surrounding areas (eg removal of litter, dog waste, and human waste where necessary), challenged in-appropriate behaviours & collated data which will be used to refine visitor strategies going forwards, to take these new trends into consideration to maximise the potential value of ‘eco-tourism’ locally.  The trial proved very effective (eg. 36 fires were put out before they could spread; more than 300 incidents involving poorly controlled/out of control dogs were nipped in the bud; & many wild campers & campervan users were given appropriate advice & guidance). This grant is towards the second year of the pilot programme.