Litter hotspots in some of the Peak District’s most challenging terrain are being targeted in a new initiative by national park rangers.
Extreme litter-picking involves full-time and volunteer rangers tackling some of the hardest to reach areas, including rock formations and caves, throughout the national park.
As Covid-19 restrictions have eased, the Peak District has experienced a huge increase in both visitors and litter.
Now, as volunteer rangers return to duties, a new push is underway to target problem areas.
Ranger Anna Jennings explains: “Our volunteers are vital in helping us to look after the Peak District National Park and at the moment are engaged in two key roles – fire watch duties and ‘hotspot’ volunteering.
“Fire watch duties include looking out for fires and use of camp fires and BBQs – which are not permitted anywhere in open countryside throughout the Peak District – and speaking to people about the risks. Hotspot volunteering includes some rights of way work such as clearing vegetation from paths and litter picking – some of it in difficult-to-reach areas.
“All our litter picking is risk-assessed and conducted within government Covid-19 safety guidelines, observing social distancing and using personal protective equipment. The more extreme litter picking is done by full-time rangers.
“The amount and range of litter we’re finding is staggering – broken bottles, cans, dirty nappies, dog poo in bags, burnt out campfires and camping equipment, food packaging, fruit and hypodermic needles. As well as spoiling our beautiful countryside, litter can pose a serious safety risk in terms of fire or injury to other visitors, livestock and wildlife.”
Outreach conservation volunteers assistant Harriet Saltis adds: “We urge all visitors to take home their litter and leave no trace of their visit. That would be the ideal solution. Lots of visitors and local residents are also litter picking and are playing an integral role in helping us to look after the national park. We’re really grateful for their support.
“Our partners, including the National Trust, also have teams of volunteers and staff clearing litter – we’re all in this together.”