Calls to ‘care for the countryside’ this Christmas

SCOTTISH Land & Estates (SLE) – which represents farmers, land managers and rural businesses – has called on Christmas walkers to take litter home, not disturb wildlife, and keep dogs under control near cows and sheep.

The organisation’s plea follows high-profile issues of littering, anti-social behaviour, vandalism, and flytipping in rural Scotland during the pandemic.

While Scotland will be under travel restrictions over the festive period, SLE said it expected an increase in visitors to the countryside and coast.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive at SLE, said: “There is no better place to be at Christmas than rural Scotland – especially if we get the weather to enjoy walks in the fresh air against a beautifully scenic backdrop.

“Whilst this Christmas will be different for all of us, we still expect many to be walking their dogs or exercising in the countryside as they attempt to burn some calories from the Christmas pudding.

“Our message on behalf of farmers and land managers is to enjoy our rural areas but remember to do so responsibly and respectfully.”

She added: “Cows and sheep will be grazing in fields and it is important that dogs are kept on a short leash in these areas.

“We would also ask people to be mindful of other types of wildlife and to remember to take litter and other items home when it is time to depart.

“This year has been difficult for many rural communities and businesses that have had to clean up after inconsiderate visitors.

“Getting out in the fresh air is good for our mental and physical health and wellbeing and rural Scotland very much welcomes access takers – we just ask the public to be mindful to take care in the countryside over the festive period and beyond.”

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