Responsible access plea for Scotland's forests

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Image source, FLS
Image caption,
Visitors are being asked to stick to established trails where possible

Summertime visitors to Scotland's forests have been urged to play their part in habitat protection.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) expects thousands of people at more than 300 sites across the country.

However, it said that while it was looking forward to welcoming them it also had a duty to protect numerous rare or threatened species.

It has urged people to "behave appropriately" and cause "minimal disturbance" with their visits.

Image source, FLS
Image caption,
A huge influx of visitors is expected in Scotland's forests once again this summer

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."

He said they could not expect everyone to know in detail where every species was found but asked them to enjoy "responsible access" by sticking to formal trails where possible.

Image source, FLS
Image caption,
Dog walkers should keep their pets on a leash in areas where protected or endangered species live

They have also been asked to take litter home and make use of portable cooking stoves rather than lighting camp fires.

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.

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