Visitors flock to nature reserves and urban green spaces

MORE than one million visitors have flocked to Scotland’s national nature reserves this year, while use of urban green spaces is also up, according to NatureScot.

The agency, formerly Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), said around 650,000 people normally visit the country’s 43 national nature reserves each year.

That figure swelled during the intitial spring lockdown, with visitor numbers remaining high during the rest of the year.

Francesca Osowska, chief executive at NatureScot, said: “Nature is helping us all cope with anxiety throughout this difficult time and strengthening our resilience.”

Separate figures from the public body showed a rise in the proportion of people visiting the outdoors at least once a week, up from 64% in August 2019 to 71% between March and May, and then climbing again to 80% between August and September.

The agency said visitor numbers also rose at urban green spaces, with Fernbrae Meadows in South Lanarkshire reporting an increase from 14,947 in June 2019 to 95,697 in July.

South Lanarkshire Council and its partners have turned the former private golf course at Fernbrae Meadows into a park.

The site is one of seven to have received a share of more than £15 million of funding allocated by NatureScot under the first phase of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Green Infrastructure Fund.

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.