As lockdown easing continues, the Nevis Landscape Partnership is anticipating a massive influx of people coming to the area to spend time in the Scottish outdoors and reconnect with nature.
This has raised serious concerns over the possible negative impacts on the area after littering became a major issue in many beauty spots last year.
The organisation is calling for the mountain and glen to receive national recognition and financial support to help preserve the local environment, provide facilities for visitors and support responsible tourism.
Standing 1,345m tall, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK.
It was first officially conquered in 1771 by Edinburgh botanist James Robertson, and today the mountain and surrounding glen attract more than 400,000 visitors each year.
Numbers have doubled in the last 20 years and this trend is set to continue.
Nevis Landscape Partnership chair Mike Pescod, said: “We are blessed in Scotland with abundant natural resources to rival the best in the world, and it is clear that the Scottish Government recognises that we have a duty to protect and enhance these assets as essential to our economy, culture, way of life and the well-being of future generations.
“However, for the Nevis area this is a critical moment.
“If we are to continue to welcome everyone who wants to explore the Nevis area and take advantage of the well-understood benefits to health and well-being, we need to have a long-term structure in place that will care for our visitors as well as for the landscape and the nature that thrives in it.
“We need to develop a framework for a move towards a carbon-neutral circular economy which directs funds raised from visitors to Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis into visitor and environmental management of the Nevis area.”
Work to increase provisions in the area has already begun – including establishing a new car park with toilets and other facilities.
But many of the charity’s bigger plans depend on further funding.
Mr Pescod added: “Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis benefits people, our local communities, it drives our visitor economy and plays an important role in reaching CO2 and global warming targets.
“However, to ensure the Nevis area can be sustainably enjoyed by future generations we need to put in place new, secure, long-term resources to care for this unique national landscape.
“At the same time we must also be aware that Glen Nevis has internationally acclaimed cultural and natural heritage assets.
“In balancing economic drivers we must be careful not to detract from the very qualities which make Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis a unique place to live and to visit.”
Areas designated as national parks – Scotland currently has two, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and Cairngorms – receive government support to help promote access and care for the area.
The Nevis area does not receive such help.
“We believe that, as well as national parks, there should be a companion designation for specific and discreet areas of national importance with direct access to Scottish Government funding,” Mr Pescod said.
“It is time to recognise Ben Nevis as Scotland's national mountain, with the beautiful Glen Nevis at its feet.”
Scotland already has a number of official and unofficial national icons.
The unicorn is our animal, the Scots pine our tree, the golden eagle our bird, haggis our food and, of course, whisky is the national drink – with Irn-Bru often named as our second in this category.