Agenda and papers for 59th meeting on 8 February 2023.
National Access Forum – 59th meeting on Wednesday 8 February 2022, 10.30 – 13:15
Hybrid meeting - In-person at Battleby, and Virtual via MS Teams
- Welcome, introductions, apologies – Don Milton – Convenor - 10:30 – 10:45
- Minutes of previous meetings, & action points and matters arising – 10:45 – 11:00 - (unconfirmed minutes from the virtual meeting held 21 September 2022 attached)
Carried over from 2 February 2022, as discussed in Sept:
AP 56/3: - Mark Wrightham to circulate a paper to the camping sub-group to look at the cumulative impacts of camping; potential actions could then be considered by the Forum.
On- going: Sept update: No further progress since paper circulated to the sub-group for comment earlier in the summer but report from Scottish Government and NatureScot presenting behavioural research on promoting responsible camping to be published early October and associated webinar - Full report; Summary. Feb 2023 update: Bridget Jones confirms that messaging around camping including fires & responsible behaviour and cumulative impacts is now included in the Visitor Management Strategy action plan for 2023
AP 56/5: - NatureScot to investigate the legal position on liability for third party promotion of paths. On- going: Sept update: Bridget Jones from NatureScot is considering how best to take forward.
Feb 2023 update: Bridget Jones confirms NatureScot has prepared a draft brief and will be seeking legal advice, using our legal advisors, with a response anticipated by early spring.
Carried over from 8 June 2022:
AP 57/2: - Forum members wishing to be part of a working group to look at wild deer management and access should inform the NAFsec. Discharged
From 21 September 2022:
AP 58/1 – NAFsec to circulate the note of the Ben Alder level-crossing site meeting between SLE and Network Rail (an SLE member) to NAF members when available. Discharged
AP 58/2 – NAFsec to publish the NAF Guidance Note on Roads and Access Legislation on the SOAC website, and enlist NAF members’ support in disseminating it to the target audiences. Discharged
AP 58/3 – NAF Convenor to write to Scottish Ministers, providing the Guidance Note on Roads and Access Legislation and recommending future legislative change. Discharged
AP 58/4 – Nick Cole to seek feedback from LAF Chairs on the issue of support / resourcing of LAFs by local authorities. Discharged
AP 58/5 – NAFsec to provide info on the Ian Findlay Path Fund Discharged
AP 58/6 – Helen Todd to invite reps from land management bodies to join the resources for access sub-group. Discharged
AP 58/7 – The resources for access sub-group to develop a work plan to include NAF responses to the current consultations on land reform and agriculture legislation. Partially discharged. See agenda item 5
AP 58/8: Additional volunteers for the NAF/LAF event working group and ideas for the proposed late-spring meeting should be sent to the NAFsec who will convene the first meeting as soon as practicable. Discharged. See agenda item 6
- Wildlife Disturbance sub-group – updated Guidance attached - Alan Macpherson, NatureScot - 11:00 - 11:20
Comfort break 11:20 – 11:30
- SOAC Communications planning for 2023 – Cat Synnot, NatureScot – paper attached - 11:30 - 11:50
- Resources for Access sub-group - Helen Todd, Ramblers Scotland - paper attached - 11:50 - 12:10
- NAF / LAF event – proposal - Nick Cole, LAFs rep. - paper attached - 12:10 – 12:30
- Membership Review – outcome of second phase – Alan Macpherson, NatureScot – paper attached - 12:30 - 12:50
- Forthcoming meetings & agenda items - Don Milton - updated work programme attached
12:50 – 13:00
- NAF / LAF event - TBC
- NAF meeting - Wednesday 7 June 2023 – Battleby
- NAF meeting - Wednesday 20 September 2023 – Battleby
- NAF meeting – Wednesday 7 February 2024 TBC
June agenda items:
- Phraseology relating to right of access
- Forestry planning and how best to minimise impacts on access
- GB-wide eMTB study published 19 January by British Cycling
- Any Other Business (please inform the secretary of any substantive items) – 13:00 – 13:15
- Paths for All:
Close – 13:15
Updated guidance on access and wildlife disturbance - cover paper
This paper presents the outcome of the review of the forum’s guidance on access and wildlife disturbance. The review was initiated in 2022 in the context of growing recognition of the benefits of outdoor recreation; a progressive increase in participation, amplified during the pandemic; and growing concerns about disturbance of wildlife in some places.
The Forum is asked to approve the updated guidance, subject to any comments, and consider how members can assist with dissemination to its target audience.
At the February 2022 meeting, the proposal to review the forum’s guidance on access and wildlife disturbance was discussed and agreed. The guidance published in 2014 focused on disturbance of ground-nesting birds by poorly controlled dogs, but was structured using a framework of management approaches which was recognised as being more widely applicable to other wildlife disturbance issues.
Following the 2022 NAF meeting a sub-group was formed to undertake the review, chaired by the NAF Convenor and comprising representatives from: BASC, Cairngorms NPA, Canoe Scotland, Cycling UK, Kennel Club/Scottish Kennel Club, LAFs rep, Mountaineering Scotland, NatureScot, Ramblers Scotland, RYA Scotland, RSPB, Scottish Land & Estates and Scottish Raptor Study Group. Two drafts of the updated guidance have now been discussed at meetings of the sub-group and there has also been input from NatureScot access, species and protected area specialists.
In reviewing and updating the original guidance, the aim was to help site managers, access officers and other staff involved in local access management to deal with a broader range of issues impacting on sensitive species and important habitats within the context of biodiversity loss and climate change.
The text has been revised, updated and refreshed to reflect the wider applicability to wildlife disturbance issues and feedback on using the previous guidance. Where necessary, additional content has been provided, for example on balancing the relationship between evidence based and precautionary action. The length of the guidance document remains about the same, but it has been restructured to reduce duplication and draw out the key messages more clearly. The guidance is supported by case examples, provided using hyperlinks to available information published online.
Attendees at the sub-group meeting on 26 January welcomed the updated guidance, offered a range of minor comments (incorporated into the attached version) and expressed a keenness to publish the final version in readiness for this year’s bird breeding season.
The final draft takes on board feedback from the sub-group but it should be noted that improvements to the document’s design / presentation are still to be actioned. It is recommended that NAF’s discussion of this paper, and any final suggestions made on content including additional online case examples, should conclude with approval to publish by the end of February.
Scottish Outdoor Access Code promotion in 2023
This paper provides an update of the proposed priorities for Scottish Outdoor Access Code promotion in 2023 by NatureScot.
Members are asked to comment on the suggested priority topics, audiences, and any other aspects of Code promotion during the coming year.
NatureScot has a statutory duty to promote the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC). Our communications approach in 2022 was informed by considerable previous discussions at the Forum.
In 2022, a large part of NatureScot’s promotion of the Code was social media-based - using a library of newly designed graphics featuring key messages (available to download from the SOAC website), which we tested on our target audiences. Organic social media activity was periodically ‘boosted’ through an agency to reach a wider audience and direct traffic to the relevant part of the SOAC website. This focus on social media enabled us to share issue-specific messages with our target audiences and also allowed the campaign to operate on a broader front - with a wider reach than was previously the case. The development of the campaign on social media also allowed us to be more flexible in responding to particular issues as they arose. We complemented this activity with adverts on local radio that featured across the local Bauer network, reinforcing the messages shared on our social media channels.
The SOAC campaign now sits in the context of the collaborative national Visitor Management Strategy (VMS). Code promotion will therefore continue to be shared between a range of key partners including NatureScot, VisitScotland, Forestry & Land Scotland, the National Park Authorities, Zero Waste Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, and Keep Scotland Beautiful, and co-ordinated through the VMS Education & Marketing sub-group. This combined effort will also involve a combination of online/social and traditional media to target a variety of audiences e.g. Ramblers Scotland’s video campaigns targeting late teens and young adults aged 16-24. Ongoing discussion between member bodies will facilitate cross-promotion of content across partner channels and support local promotional activity.
NatureScot ran SOAC activity workshops aimed at teachers / outdoor educators utilising the newly designed SOAC on-line education pack to help participants learn about SOAC, its links to the curriculum and a variety of activities to help pupils understand more about their rights and responsibilities. This approach will continue in 2023 and it is hoped, broaden, to include potential induction / training of visitor information staff at key sites across Scotland.
In 2023, the timing of different parts of the campaign will continue to reflect the seasonality of some issues e.g. dogs and livestock, and birds on the foreshore in winter. As seen in previous years, a marked increase in outdoor visits is likely at some stage in early spring, and clear and sustained SOAC messaging will be required from that time onwards.
The key themes that have been identified are summarised in the following table, along with a suggested approach to messaging in 2023.
Key proposed topics and audiences
Some key audiences
Messaging for 2023
New/infrequent outdoors visitors in Scotland who are unaware of the risks related to their actions, along with dog walkers, climbers, watersports participants, and photographers.
Inexperienced/novice campers, as well as more experienced campers who believe they are behaving correctly.
All dog owners.
Leave no trace
Inexperienced/novice campers, all visitors.
General high level Code awareness, including key principles and interactions with land management
New/infrequent outdoors visitors.
2023 campaign strategy
We plan to communicate the desired behaviours through positive messaging, encouraging personal involvement, and providing informative content for those accessing the outdoors in Scotland. Involving users generates a sense of joint ownership - of both the issue and solution - and an opportunity for developing awareness, understanding, and trust. Research on responsible camping found that, although often lacking in knowledge and experience, most people wanted to do the right thing - we must harness this desire.
- Use ‘do’ rather than ‘don’t’ messages whenever possible e.g. do use a stove (and why), rather than don’t light a fire.
- Use ‘tips’ when giving information rather than instructions/guidance.
- Encourage people to take personal responsibility – not just for their actions when outdoors but for sharing messages about the desired behaviours. By targeting those receptive to the messages (and encouraging them to share these) we can take advantage of cascading behaviour – meaning our messages will reach a wider audience.
- Motivate people using what interests them about the outdoors e.g. a dog walker may be more likely to keep their dog on the lead around seals if they understand that their pet could get bitten.
- Provide information on practical actions people can take to do the right thing and enhance their experience of the outdoors, without assuming prior knowledge e.g. top tips, checklists.
- Provide the rationale behind the actions we are asking for and identify a victim of certain behaviours if appropriate, e.g. a photo of a wader chick (that could be abandoned by the parent if the nest is disturbed).
As well as using social media influencers to target specific audiences (such as dog walkers, campers, and watersports participants), we plan to utilise our following on social media to get people to be ‘Outdoors Ambassadors’. We will encourage them to share their experiences of doing the desired behaviours and offer others tips on how to do this. Research has shown that our rangers are held “in great respect” and are a trusted source of advice and information. We will also support them to deliver these messages across our channels – via video or written content, such as blogs and social media posts.
Further plans for 2023 include:
- Work on the SOAC website to improve user journeys through the site (making it easier for people to find what they are looking for), tie in positive messaging (while ensuring that the content from the Code remains), and archive old information that confuses/conflicts with the messaging.
- Traditional press releases and media work to coincide with seasonal messages.
- Blogs from NNRs related to Visitor Management (sharing positive news, as well as highlighting issues) and by/about social media influencers/ambassadors taking part in the campaign.
- Enabling people to test their knowledge of SOAC through online polls and quizzes. Quizzes and polls are fun for the participant and can be used to gauge awareness levels on specific issues outside of yearly monitoring.
Comments on any of the above, including suggested topics, key audiences or the overall approach to this year’s campaign, would be very welcome.
National Access Forum - outcome of the second phase of the membership review
This paper summarises the outcome of the second, and final, phase of the membership review covering representation within the ‘Public bodies’ and ‘Others’ groupings, building on the progress report provided at the NAF meeting on 21 September 2022.
Members are invited to note the outcome of consultation with member organisations in the ‘Public bodies’ and ‘Others’ groupings during the second phase of the membership review and the resulting changes to full and corresponding member status. Recommendations are made within each grouping for consideration by members.
The first phase of the membership review, concluded in June 2022, looked at the representation of ‘Recreation Bodies’ and ‘Land Management’ bodies on the Forum. For the ‘Recreation Bodies’ grouping this concluded with the Forum agreeing to Scottish Cycling (represented by Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland) taking up the vacancy arising from Scottish Sports Association’s decision to move from full to corresponding membership status. The review resulted in no changes within the ‘Land Management’ grouping as there were no vacancies, although the Forum encouraged the development of a close working relationship between the National Sheep Association Scotland (NSAS) and the SLE and NFUS representatives in response to NSAS’s interest.
Outcome of Phase 2
All 65 full and corresponding member organisations within the ‘Public bodies’ and ‘Others’ groupings were initially contacted by the NAF Secretary by email in August 2022 to ascertain if they wished their status to remain the same.
- ‘Public bodies’ grouping
The previous 2018 membership review resulted in the Forum having seven public body full members. Three are permanent members – Scottish Local Authorities, the National Park Authorities (one joint seat), and NatureScot (which is non-voting) with the other four seats held by Local Access Forums, sportscotland, Police Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Responses have been received from all nineteen organisations in this grouping, with the following requested changes:
- sportscotland wish to continue involvement with NAF but as a corresponding rather than a full member, in light of the level of representation from the outdoor sports governing bodies on the Forum.
- Scottish Forestry (SF) and Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) have requested full membership of the Forum following the reform of the public forestry sector and the establishment of both organisations in 2019 as separate executive agencies of the Scottish Government.
- Scottish Enterprise and Office of Rail and Road no longer wish to be corresponding members.
There are therefore, in effect, two full member places available to be allocated within this grouping resulting from sportscotland’s withdrawal and the re-organisation of Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS). While FCS was a full member, its involvement with NAF was, in practice, supported and assisted by Forest Enterprise whose representatives attended relevant NAF meetings and engaged with relevant working groups. Since their establishment, both SF and FLS have engaged actively with NAF and attended Forum meetings and working groups, continuing the involvement of their predecessor bodies.
The membership review has provided an opportunity for both organisations to formally request full membership of NAF. As a land manager and the largest provider of outdoor recreation in Scotland, FLS bring extensive experience of managing access alongside their large scale operational forestry programme. FLS is also a key partner in the parallel strategic Visitor Management Strategy work. SF’s responsibility for forestry policy, support and regulations enable it to influence and support access provision (through the forestry grant scheme) and access management across the whole forestry sector. FLS and SF contend that these respective remits and functions enable both organisations to play an active and complementary role in the Forum that is best served by full membership status for both organisations.
Members are asked to support the requests from FLS and SF for full membership, taking up the two available places within the ‘Public bodies’ grouping.
- ‘Other bodies’ grouping
The outcome of the 2018 membership review resulted in the Forum having six full members representing ‘other bodies’. In accordance with the operating principles, these should include at least one representative of education interests within access rights; commercial interests within access rights; and conservation interests. Since 2018, these three roles have been fulfilled by Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE), Wild Scotland and Woodland Trust Scotland respectively. The remaining three seats (for bodies which do not fall into any of the above categories) have been occupied by Kennel Club/Scottish Kennel Club, ScotWays and Paths for All Partnership.
Responses have been received from 36 of the 46 organisations within this grouping – organisations are still being chased (gaps are largely the result of named contacts having left an organisation), with often painstaking work required to establish new contacts and update NAF distribution lists. The outcome of the consultation responses is that:
- All six current full members (SAPOE, Wild Scotland, Woodland Trust Scotland, Kennel Club/Scottish Kennel Club, ScotWays and Paths for All Partnership) confirmed that they wished to remain as full members, meaning there are no vacancies.
- Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) and Scottish Countryside Rangers Association (SCRA) expressed interest in moving from corresponding to full membership.
- Moray House - Outdoor & Environmental Education Group asked to be added as a new corresponding member.
Follow-on discussions were facilitated between SAPOE and AHOEC in recognition that both organisations work in the same area (outdoors/educating young people) albeit serving different needs and interests. This concluded in agreement between the two organisations to co-ordinate their input, with SAPOE, as a full member, agreeing to feed in views from AHOEC, as required, and AHOEC remaining as a corresponding member.
SCRA is a corresponding member, but initially attended the NAF meeting on 5 June 2020 as a guest, prompted by a desire to be directly engaged in the discussions on the particular visitor management issues during the early months of the pandemic. Their continued attendance as a guest has been mutually beneficial during the last two years given the key role Rangers have played in managing visitor pressures and promoting responsible behaviour over this period. However, as all the existing full members within this membership grouping wish to continue, there is no seat available to allocate to SCRA at this time under the Forum’s operating principles. In preserving the broad balance in Forum representation, the precedent in similar previous circumstances has been to ask the organisation to continue as a corresponding member and to investigate ways of developing a closer working relationship with the NAF through existing full members. Members are asked if they support this approach.
Following discussion and decision on Phase 2 of the review at the Forum in February 2023, the list of NAF members (full and corresponding) will be updated and circulated. A partially updated working version, as of January 2023, is attached for reference at Annex A.
The Secretary will continue to chase responses and updated named contacts for the remaining organisations: Boys’ Brigade; Duke of Edinburgh Scotland; Girls’ Brigade; Venture Trust; Scottish Youth Hostel Association; Trekking and Riding Society of Scotland; Disability Equality Scotland; Salmon & Trout Association; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; and Scottish Chambers of Commerce. If members have had any recent contact with any of these organisations and can suggest possible leads, please get in touch with the Secretary.
The review provides a timely opportunity to remind members that following discussion and agreement in 2018 on how to involve young people in the work of NAF, members were invited to bring a young person from their organisation to Forum meetings, alerting the Secretary in advance to manage numbers. If necessary, this could be done on rotation. The approach could be broadened to encourage greater equality, diversity and inclusion within NAF’s work.
The NAF operating principles require a review of membership every four years, so the next review will be due to commence in 2026.