PEOPLE are being urged to protect wild spaces as they look forward to a summer in the great outdoors.

With most people expected to holiday in the UK this year, the National Trust is calling on everyone spending time in nature to care for it by binning their litter or taking it home with them.

It is also asking people to avoid disposable barbeques that are often abandoned and risk causing wildfires.

Last year, with people unable to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions, many National Trust sites struggled with high volumes of left rubbish and dumped equipment from ‘flycamping’.

The trust said cleaning up after visitors diverted rangers from their conservation work.

It said despite the efforts of staff and volunteers to avoid a similar situation this year, some beauty spots were already experiencing issues.

Celia Richardson, director of communications and insight at the National Trust, said: “We know from the volume of visitors we’re seeing at our places just how popular walking is for all age groups and we look forward to welcoming people over the summer as they enjoy the hundreds of walks across our landscapes, woodland, trails and coastal footpaths.

“With more people having to ‘staycation’ this summer due to restrictions on foreign travel we want people to be mindful of their surroundings and look after the very thing they are there to enjoy.”

A survey for the National Trust found the public’s renewed appreciation of nature and the simple pleasures it brings, brought about by lockdown, will continue once restrictions are eased.

The YouGov poll of 2,193 adults found 46 percent were looking forward to going on a day trip to the countryside with their family this summer, while 42 percent said they enjoyed a picnic in a green space.

However, in the past two years, the RSPCA has received more than 8,000 reports of wildlife injured or caught up in litter.

Celia added: “We all need to stick to pathways, to take litter home to recycle or dispose of, and not use disposable barbeques, which can be very hazardous.”