The Access Forum was established in 1994 to debate and resolve access issues at a national level, bringing together the main national bodies - drawn from the recreational, land management and public sectors - with an interest in access to the outdoors.
The work of the original Forum helped to lay the foundations for Scotland's access legislation and included:
- Developing a national Concordat on access to Scotland's hills and mountains
- Establishing Hillphones and other initiatives to improve liaison between recreational users and land managers during the stalking season
- Publishing 'Care For The Hills', providing guidance on minimum impact recreation in the uplands
- Publishing 'Calmer Waters', providing guidance on planning and managing recreation on inland water
- Advising on future arrangements for access to the outdoors and on the draft Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
This advice provided the basis for the access provisions in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 which came into force in February 2005 - creating the modern framework of Scottish access rights.
The National Access Forum was reconvened in 2004 with a modern and participatory structure to support Scottish access rights. Since then the Forum has:
- Facilitated national liaison about access rights
- Helped to develop short versions of the Access Code
- Helped to develop guidance on the use of signs to provide information about land management, and more specific guidance about stalking and the Heading for the Scottish Hills web service
- Developed guidance on informal camping and outdoor events
- Advised on access management in a range of situations including inland water, golf courses, outdoor centres, level crossings and trunk road developments
- Contributed to SNH's access education campaigns.