Scotland has the best access to the countryside in the UK. With this comes a responsibility on all of us who explore it to tread lightly.
If you are passionate about caring for the mountain environment we all enjoy and supporting Scotland's mountain communities, follow our guidance on making choices that will minimise the impact you have while hill walking, climbing or ski-mountaineering.
Sometimes the impact of our actions is not immediately obvious, but only becomes so through the accumulation of effects and the fact that we are among many hill goers out there. Here are a few areas where we can all help out.
Every year hundreds of thousands of pounds is spent on upland path work. Research has also shown that above 600m, vegetation may never naturally recover from damage. Alongside contributing to the fundraising for this work, many ways you can help cost you absolutely nothing:
Whether you are camping, walking, climbing or snowholing: only things that you are willing to carry out should be carried in.
Litter in the mountains and their approaches is a serious problem in some areas and we would urge people to read about and join in our #TakItHame anti-litter campaign.
There are few toilets in the mountains, but sometimes we still need to 'go'. Dealing with this in a hygenic and environmentally sensitive way is a vital outdoor skill.
Wildlife can be the highlight of hillwalking and rock climbing, and you can help keep it that way. You should also be aware where you stand in relation to wildlife laws, as disturbing a wide range of plants and animals is illegal.
Camping wild is a great way to experience Scotland's hills and glens. It has minimal impact when done responsibly. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code gives lots of advice on this vital skill, from where to locate your tent, to guidance on lighting fires.
Scotland's outdoors are a great place to explore with your dog, but this can also cause problems:
We have comprehensive advice on the issues you need to be aware of when taking your dogs into the mountains in our Taking the dog pages.
Some cairns have historical significance or are important landmarks. Most are an unnecessary and potentially misleading intrusion on the natural landscape:
Boundaries such as dry stone walls are traditional structures and easily damaged. Fences are not usually erected to keep people out but to control the movement of wild animals and livestock for conservation or farming:
Crags are home to flora and fauna that has retreated from heavy grazing and disturbance, or, because that is their specialist habitat. Follow these steps to ensure you minimise your impact when climbing or bouldering:
Many of the best winter climbing venues are north-facing cliffs which hold considerable amounts of vegetation. Some are locations of rare alpine plants. It is important that vegetation and turf is completely frozen to minimise damage:
Skiing on incomplete snow cover can have the effect of skis slicing through the vegetation and compacting remnants of snow can further damage it.