Promoting responsible camping: research summary

Summary of research assessing why some outdoor users behave responsibly within official guidelines, while others behave irresponsibly or illegally, when camping with tents in Scotland.

Background and objectives

Scotland's landscape and outdoor spaces make it a sought-after destination for visitors from all over the UK and the wider world. It is widely acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns fuelled an increase in people visiting the outdoors for recreation. Restrictions on international travel also led to an increasing number of 'staycations' in the UK.

This impact of the pandemic alongside Scotland's unique countryside, and freedoms for accessing that countryside, meant that Scotland became a prime destination for people to visit from across the UK.

The Scottish Government commissioned this research to inform strategies to encourage visitors to enjoy Scottish landscapes while practicing responsible behaviour when camping in tents outwith managed camping facilities. The term 'wild camping' is used in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) to describe camping outside of managed facilities, as permitted by Scotland's access rights. Specifically, the research aimed to:

1. Identify the different audiences who are engaging in irresponsible wild camping behaviours.

2. Explore the channels by which they can be reached.

3. Consider what messages will resonate with these audiences and drive behaviour change.



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