Mainland Scotland is now in lockdown. Find out more in our Advice for Visitors.

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Covid-19/Coronavirus – Advice to land managers

June 12, 2020

On this page you can find relevant information from partner organisations for land owners and land managers during the Coronavirus / Covid-19 pandemic. The National Park Authority is working hard to ensure support and guidance is coordinated effectively.

While we are now transitioning into the first phase out of the lockdown, the clear message from the Scottish Government and health professionals is to still stay close to home as much as possible. This includes while taking part in outdoor activity and some forms of non-contact outdoor recreation, which is now permitted only if undertaken roughly within 5 miles from your home. National Park buildings and visitor facilities remain closed and will only reopen when it is safe to do so for the people using them, the staff working at them, and the communities around them. More information on the status of our visitor sites can be found on our Advice to Visitors page.

Access rights

The Scottish Government has published this statement on what exercising rights of access responsibly under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 means during the COVID-19 emergency. More information for land owners and managers can be found in the Outdoor Access Code Guidance for Land Managers from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Remaining vigilant to flytipping

Household waste and recycling centres will begin to reopen from 1st June. However, we’re still supporting Zero Waste Scotland’s calls for everyone to remain vigilant to flytipping and would encourage you to report any sightings as soon as possible via Dumb Dumpers. We’ll continue to work with Zero Waste Scotland and other partners as part of our Litter and Waste Prevention programme to ensure that flytipping in the National Park is minimised, with any incidents dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner.

Deer Stalking

In line with the Scottish Government’s route-map out of lockdown, there is a staged approach to the restart of deer management activity.

Anyone required by contract or lease agreement undertaking deer management to protect forestry, agricultural and environmental objectives should follow the guidance: Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) in forestry (FISA guidance).

Those stalking for recreational purposes can do so unaccompanied (or only in the presence of people from the same household). People should only travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise and are advised to stay within a short distance of their local community (broadly within 5 miles).

It is essential to follow Scottish Government and Public Health guidance and manage risks by maintaining physical distancing, hand washing and sanitisation, as this is one of the most effective ways to suppress the spread of the virus. More information on this guidance can be found on the SNH website

Further to this ADMG is recommending deer managers should:

  • consider whether work such as Habitat Impact Assessments, training, or other activity, even if this takes place out of doors, is essential or whether it can be postponed.
  • postpone any non-essential face-to-face meetings including DMG meetings. There are online platforms that can be effectively used for small meetings such as Skype or Teams.
  • avoid all non-essential travel.
  • avoid any activity that might, through accident or error, place additional pressure on any of the emergency services.
  • check the Covid-19 Support for BusinessesGuidance for Employees, employers and businesses and other pages for notifications of measures that could help your business.

Carcase collection from larders will be affected as processors respond to the current situation. However, the Scottish Government through Scotland Food and Drink has said that businesses involved in food supply should remain open if possible, subject to being able to adhere to two requirements:

  • safe social distancing practice.
  • normal health and safety requirements.

We will issue further updates as information is made available.

Forestry

Following the publication of the Scottish Government’s Route Map through and out of the crisis, Scottish Forestry has been working with the forestry sector and safety body representatives to develop guidance on how the forestry sector can safely restart:

Forestry and Land Scotland have also published information about forestry during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Confor have created a new Covid-19 information hub and have released a statement from a Defra spokesperson: ‘Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers. Only necessary workers, producing key goods, should continue to attend workplaces. Working from home should be encouraged for administrative staff.’

Farming & crofting

Farming and crofting are essential activities with considerable human health and animal welfare implications if they cease to operate.

Further updates available from Scotland Food and Drink.

We can provide signage to help land managers provide information to people taking their daily exercise reminding them about taking responsible access during this year’s lambing.

Fieldwork/ecological surveys

National Park Authority staff have ceased all site visits and field work, however we recognise that some fieldwork may be connected to essential activities in forestry or farm management.

Further guidance for ecologists and fieldworkers is available from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM):

Muirburn

Muirburn is not an essential activity and poses increased risks to emergency services.

The statutory muirburn season ended on 15th April, however the consensus amongst moorland managers is to suspend all muirburn for the rest of this season.

The following from Scottish Land and Estates provides a clear explanation:

During the Covid-19 pandemic, to help make sure there is no chance for additional strain on public services, SLE is urging moorland managers, crofters and hill farmers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season.  The fortnight before the end of the main muirburn season on 15 April is usually a very busy time for muirburn as it is often the only time when the heather is dry enough.  However, even after a careful risk assessment shows conditions are safe for burning, there can still be a very small risk of a fire getting out of control and needing emergency services to be called out.  This could divert resources from elsewhere and put others at risk.  During this pandemic, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) potentially would not be available and so a wildfire may not be controlled, or an ambulance or hospital bed may not be available to treat anyone injured.

Therefore, to make 100% sure there is no additional call on public services, we are asking land managers not to undertake any more muirburn for the rest of this season.

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