BUDDING Bear Grylls have been blamed for damaging one of Scotland’s oldest areas of natural woodland.
Several pine trees were chopped down and a large area of moss ripped up in the Cairngorms by outdoor survival enthusiasts.
A ranger with the RSPB said they had seen an increase in damage caused by wild campers and said celebrity survival experts should shoulder some of the blame.
Some visitors were even arriving with chainsaws to illegally chop down rare trees, warned the charity.
The Abernethy National Nature Reserve, located within the Cairngorms National Park, recently fell victim to outdoor survival enthusiasts.
Shocking pictures showed how they chopped down pine trees to create a 3ft wind break and ripped up moss to turn a tree into a huge “comfortable” seating area around a camp fire.
Alison Greggans, RSPB Community Ranger for region, discovered the damage earlier this month while carrying out a regular patrol in the woods.
She posted her pictures with the words: “This is sheer madness. I think Ray Mears or Bear Grylls came to Abernethy this weekend. This is criminal damage and as land owners the RSPB would be in a position to prosecute.”
She said today (thu) “Some people are now coming along to the nature reserve with the likes of chainsaws and sawing down trees.
“Bush craft skills are all over TV and social media with high profile celebrities doing survial shows.
“They’re encouraging people to go out into the wild and try these things but what they’re really missing and lacking is the follow up message of not leaving behind damage. Not to mention all the toilet issues as well.”
Alison added: “In this most recent incident, dead moss was ripped up and used to make the seating comfortable.
“Fishing wire had also been tied around a tree with weighted bait in the nearby loch. It’s unthinkable what would have happen if an animal were to come along and get caught up in that.
“They had also set their fire directly on top of peat, which can smoulder for days and part the break had actually caught fire. ”
Her photos show the make-shift campsite with a three side wind break made from large branches, trees and moss.
In the centre of the site a burned out fire can be seen with other images showing trees that have been recently felled.
According to Alison, the awe-inspiring national nature reserve, is home to a number of fragile plants and wildlife.
She continued: “There’s a lot of damage being down to highly specialised plant life and wild life.
“People now seem to think that when they go camping they need to set a fire, so they’re burning dead wood which is home to beetles, and Abernethy Nature Reserve is the 12th most important site in the UK for beetles.
“We also have Pine Hover Flies in the woods as well and there’s only three to four sites in the UK that have these, so the impact of the damage is serious.”
Outdoor survival shows have become increasingly popular in recent years, with shows presented by ex-serviceman Bear Gyrlls taking celebrities such as Kate Winslet and Julia Roberts into harsh environments and teaching them surival skills.
The show follows Grylls with the celebrity who trek through mountains, bogs, jungles and deserts using the land around them to survive
The ancient woodland at Abernethy is also home to the endangered capercaillie as well crossbills, and its most famous resident of all the osprey.