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2 Jun 2022

Future of National Parks in Scotland

The Trust responds to Government consultation about the future of Scotland's National Parks.

Ardroy OEC at CNP

"It is almost 20 years since Scotland’s first National Parks in Loch Lomond and Trossachs and Cairngorms were established.  Both National Parks are home to some of Scotland’s most outstanding scenery, are internationally important areas for nature and receive millions of visitors each year.  The Parks work closely with their communities, land managers, local businesses, third sector and individuals to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis, to help manage facilities for visitors, to promote responsible access, develop sustainable communities and ensure sustainable development.”

The current Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish at least one new National Park in Scotland by Spring 2026. 

In order to do this, the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity opened a consultation for ideas on the future of National Parks in Scotland

The consultation questions strike a positive note, they are future focused, asking people what they value about the two existing National Parks and about what National Parks can do for the environment. 

The Trust has added its thoughts to the public dialogue and invites people to comment on our ideas or those of others and to submit your own. See below or download the PDF here.

1. What do you value most about Scotland's National Parks?

  • They protect some of our most precious and special wild places.
  • They provide beautiful places for people to live and work and sustainable economic opportunities for local communities to thrive.
  • They provide recreational and outdoor learning opportunities to enable everyone to access and enjoy the natural environment.

2. How can National Parks help the environment?

  • They can lead the way in exemplary land management for biodiversity and climate change.
  • They can let nature have freedom to lock up carbon and boost biodiversity naturally by promoting and delivering land management that creates natural, fully functioning ecosystems – regenerating woodlands, natural tree lines, healthy peatlands, self-sustaining water catchments, etc.
  • They can reduce unnaturally high herbivore densities and move away from intensive monocultures of deer, sheep, grouse or non-native (??) conifers, instead allowing natural diverse ecosystems to develop.

3. How can we better manage visitor pressures in National Parks?

  • Consult and listen to local community views to understand pressures and inform visitor management solutions.
  • Invest more in National Park Ranger Services and interpretation.
  • Provide more facilities throughout the parks to spread the load away from honeypots. These should be appropriately and sensitively sited in consultation with local communities and provide a wide range of options from campsites; campervan pitches; toilets; paths; bothies; huts; cabins as well as B&B and hotel accommodation.
  • Plan for and facilitate free or cheap low carbon transport connections.
  • Provide opportunities for sections of society who are not currently able to access our parks.

4. What criteria should we use to decide where the next new National Parks in Scotland should be?

  • The potential for the land to be managed in an exemplary way to protect and restore our finest wild places. The park must be based on a thriving natural ecosystem.
  • The strength of interest and support from the local community for the area to be designated based on an appreciation of the added visitor numbers and associated economic opportunities that the designation would bring.
  • The number of people in Scotland who are likely to benefit from the designation – particularly from communities and sections of society currently not able to access our National Parks.

The consultation closes on 6 June 2022.

Photograph taken in Cairngorms National Park courtesy of Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre.