THE National Trust for Scotland is set to undertake vital conservation work on the summit of one of Scotland’s famous mountains.
The work, undertaken on Ben Lomond, is being done with the aims of halting the spread of vegetation loss and soil erosion.
The iconic Ben, standing at 974 metres on the shores of Loch Lomond, has seen a loss of plant life as a result of trampling from higher visitor numbers that has led to the increase of bare, unvegetated ground on its summit.
The conservation charity is set to start work on 20 March to improve footpath access to the summit to stop further loss of vegetation and soil erosion, after raising concerns the eroded area could double in size over the next few years if left untreated.
The intervention to address the spread of further erosion to the summit is only possible thanks to the generosity of donors to the National Trust for Scotland’s Footpath Fund, an important source of support to protect and care for Scotland’s mountain landscape.
Alasdair Eckersall, National Trust for Scotland Property Manager and Senior Ranger, said: “The Trust will be carrying out some crucial conservation work to address the loss of vegetation density and soil erosion from the summit of Ben Lomond.
“The mountain top is home to some sensitive and scarce plant species and we need to protect their habitat from further damage to help re-establish the ground cover.
“Increased pressure from rising visitor numbers has led to the degradation of plant life and topsoil on its peak, which was exacerbated by periods of intense footfall following the easing of lockdown restrictions during the pandemic in 2020.
“Having monitored the situation over the last few years it is important to address this now to try and stop further erosion of the area.
“We have noticed more walkers using the softer, vegetated ground to ascend and descend from the summit.
“So, our aim is to develop a clearly defined path through the broad area already eroded down to the bedrock and mineral layer, to protect against further erosion with landscaping work to encourage walkers to stick to the recommended route.
“In doing so, walkers can contribute to the success of the work by sticking to the areas already worn bare to help ease the impact of further damage from trampling, giving the fragile summit vegetation a chance to recover over the coming growing season.
“This important work is only made possible by the generous donations to our Footpath Fund to help the Trust care for and protect Scotland’s stunning mountain landscape and preserve them for future generations.
“It will help to ensure we can continue to provide access to nature, beauty and heritage for everyone and is aligned with our goals set in our 10-year strategy that was launched in March 2022.”
With the risk of losing such a large extent of vegetation and topsoil, National Trust for Scotland staff will start work to reduce the impact on the eastern side of the mountain top and on the 150m final ascent to the summit.
This will involve improving footpath access and landscaping areas of flat, eroded ground with a series of hummocks and hollows to help divert hill-goers away from affected areas on the summit.
The work will result in some initial disturbance to the ground, but this will be done sensitively to maintain as natural an appearance as possible.
Members of the public can find out more about donating to the Footpath Fund to support the National Trust for Scotland here: nts.org.uk/footpath-fund
The Ben Lomond footpath work is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s vision to deliver Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone.
The project is one of many contributing to its conservation objectives, specifically to stabilise and improve the condition of its estate and enable nature to flourish.