LANDOWNERS and organisations representing more than a third of Yorkshire’s land area have urged people to follow the Countryside Code as lockdown restrictions begin to ease across the nation.

Gatherings of up to six people are now permitted outdoors and Yorkshire's Land Network, which includes Yorkshire Water, Forestry Commission, National Trust, NFU, Woodland Trust, The Bolton Abbey Estate, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Country, Land and Business Association, have told people to continue following government guidelines and respect the county's countryside.

The code includes; consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors and park carefully so access to gateways and driveways is clear, leave gates and property as you find them and make sure to follow paths but give way to others where it’s narrow, leave no trace of your visit by taking all your litter home, check what facilities are open, and obey social distancing measures.

Crispin Thorn, Yorkshire and North East Forestry Commission director, said: "The easing of lockdown restrictions is welcome news and the prospect of meeting up with friends and family outside in larger groups will be a relief for many.

"We are expecting open spaces to be particularly busy once restrictions are eased and we enter a period of school holidays and bank holiday weekends.

"Yorkshire offers a wide range of opportunities to meet and socialise in green spaces and open countryside, but it is important people are considerate of the environment.

"Visitors should make sure to follow the Countryside Code, take litter home with them, as well as adhering to the latest government Covid guidelines.

"In recent years we have also seen a number of damaging wildfires which are often started by disposable barbecues.

"The fires are a danger to life as well as local ecosystems, as they damage moorland, peat soils, trees and impact valuable habitats and wildlife such as birds, reptiles and insects.

"Landowners in Yorkshire are united in asking visitors not to set fires or use barbecues unless in a designated area."