Oats chair Ian Moffett, left, and The Mountains and The People project officer Julie Wilson join award winners, from left, Euan Ramage, James Brownhill and James Gillies

Oats chair Ian Moffett, left, and The Mountains and The People project officer Julie Wilson join award winners, from left, Euan Ramage, James Brownhill and James Gillies

Volunteers who have helped repair and maintain routes in Scotland’s national parks received recognition for their efforts.

The annual public meeting of the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland heard how 2,710 volunteer-hours had been spent by 178 people clearing blocked drainage ditches, improving path surfaces, vegetation management, invasive species control and repairing fences and stiles over the past 18 months.

The work was carried out as part of the trust’s The Mountains and The People project.

Glasgow-based James Gillies, who won the volunteer of the year accolade in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park, first started volunteering with the project in June 2016. He has helped to repair paths all over the park and more recently has ‘adopted’ Ben Ime, helping to conserve the fragile upland landscape by reporting on erosion damage and potential path issues.

Retired meteorologist and Aberdeen resident James Brownhill won the volunteer of the year in the Cairngorms national park having been involved in volunteering for the trust well before TMTP Project started.

He was one of the early Adopt a Path volunteers, having surveyed the Dubh Loch path on the Balmoral Estate path for the past five years as well as attending several conservation work parties throughout the Cairngorms.

Shopkeeper Euan Ramage from Alloa won the award for most conservation days, having volunteered on 14 different conservation work parties in both of Scotland’s national parks.

Presentations, discussions, tool-box talks and demonstrations also took place at the trust’s annual meeting.

The Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland was formed in April 2008 out of what had previously been the Upper Deeside Access Trust, which was 10 years earlier.

It aims to conserve and protect the natural heritage and environment of the areas it works in by encouraging, developing and implementing access management projects; facilitating and maintaining public access to the areas; advancing the education of the public about the natural heritage of the areas, and by promoting the public and individual health benefits of the enjoyment of outdoor access.

The Mountains and The People project has a £5.2m budget and the trust said it was established to preserve and improve the unique upland habitats of the national parks, recognising that the lure of the mountains as a recreational, social and, at times, spiritual retreat brings not only benefit to those visiting, but also has a physical impact on the landscape itself.

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