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National Access Forum

Earlier this week Scottish Land & Estates attended the 44th meeting of the National Access Forum held in the SNH offices at Battleby. The forum was provided with an update from the Core Paths and OS mapping sub group which is looking to have all core paths detailed on OS maps. The whole Core Path data set exists on the Improvement Service Spatial Hub (IS) website already but is not currently publicly available. Options discussed included making this available on SNH and FC websites. This information is now available on the  SNH website.
An update was also provided from the Mountain Biking and Enduro Activity sub-group which has been established to identify potential solutions to the growth in unauthorised mountain bike trails. The work on this is being led by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates. Identified actions include the development of potential management models/ draft guidance, a communication plan and the development of a case study portfolio. Work on these activities is developing well and it is envisaged that draft guidance will be ready to go out to the wider community for consultation in the summer.  
Matt Buckland, Visitor Operations Manager for Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park presented an annual update on the camping management byelaws which were introduced in the park in March 2017.  The forum was advised that more than 16,000 people (including more than 2,800 children) camped within one of the permit areas or low cost campsites during this first season of the camping byelaws and that positive feedback has been received from the majority of the 1200 people who responded to the feedback survey about the permit areas, with 87% saying that they would be ‘quite likely’ (29%) or ‘very likely’ (58%) to recommend staying over in a permit area. The annual update can be viewed here.
Finally, Dr Jed Long from the University of St Andrews presented a project summary on the research being undertaken on hill walkers and deer movement “Conflict and coexistence in the Scottish uplands: Quantifying the relative importance of human disturbance to wildlife using red deer as a case study.” The project will seek to: (i) quantify impact of hill walkers on red deer and disentangle this from the effects of livestock reduction, culling pressure and supplementary feeding and ii) test the effect of information provision on the behavior of humans. It is anticipated that the results will support a more adaptive, evidence-based approach to managing this valuable resource.

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