By Lucy Ashton
A staggering 1203 bags of rubbish have been collected within Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in one month.
A coordinated push on litter during April saw staff from the National Park Authority, local authorities and communities get a head start on the issue ahead of the busiest visitor months.
There was a particular focus on the A82, where a large amount of litter has traditionally accumulated. Staff from the National Park Authority supported Argyll & Bute Council to clear the 15 mile stretch of the road from Duck Bay to Tarbet, deep cleaning laybys and verges and pulling litter from the undergrowth along the route. A total of 416 bags were lifted from this section alone.
West Dunbartonshire Council also organised an A82 clean up from Barloan Toll [Bellsmyre] roundabout in Dumbarton to Stoneymollan roundabout above Balloch.
The A82 clean up boosted the significant amount of regular litter patrols and waste management activities carried out every week by National Park Authority staff and partners.
Additional resources put in place for 2021 include three new Environment Officers, specifically recruited to help tackle litter and waste within the National Park this season.
Communities, businesses and individuals have also been keen to get involved and help protect the Park. Fortnightly volunteer clean ups will start in May and communities are organising their own initiatives to help tackle the issue.
Heading into the Bank Holiday weekend, the National Park Authority is now calling on visitors to play their part.
Simon Jones, Director of Environment and Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority said: “We have dedicated staff time right through April to help clean the National Park up before the influx of visitors we are expecting this summer. We’ve seen a big difference already with visible improvements on the A82 in particular.
“Despite this effort from our staff, partners, local businesses and communities, there is more to be done, so we are calling on everyone to take responsibility for respecting and protecting this special place.
“As well as being a serious threat to the National Park’s wildlife, litter impacts local communities and affects visitors’ enjoyment while they are here. Coming out of lockdown, the benefits that people get from spending time in nature are more important than ever.
“We have significantly increased our resources on the ground for this season, with additional bins, toilets and staff to help tackle the issues we saw last year. But simply dedicating more and more resources to clearing litter up isn’t sustainable, or the answer long term.
“We have laid the groundwork with a big push on tackling litter but we want our Rangers to be on the ground helping people, not picking up after them. By bagging up their litter and taking it home if bins are full, visitors can play their part by leaving no trace of their visit.”
Visitors are being encouraged to share positive examples of how they dispose of their litter in the National Park on social media by tagging the National Park Authority @Lomondtrossachs.
And for communities within the National Park who want to go the extra mile, the National Park Authority is encouraging locals to sign up to Keep Scotland Beautiful’s ‘Summer Clean’.
The initiative invites people to pledge that they will collect litter in their local area and inspire others to take action to clean up Scotland.
To make it easier for those in the National Park to take part, the National Park Authority is giving away free litter picking sticks to the first 50 qualifying pledges from people living in the National Park.
Pledges can be made between now and the 16th May, with the miles to be covered during the summer months: www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/NPASummerClean