A record £1 million investment in the Cairngorms National Park will help safeguard the area’s wildlife, landscape and communities as it prepares to welcome back visitors once coronavirus restrictions ease.
The cash boost has been spent on staffing and infrastructure ahead of the first official day of duties for the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) seasonal rangers on Good Friday.
It has funded an extra four full-time permanent ranger posts and five trainee jobs, meaning there will be over 35 rangers on the ground between the authority and its partners, all providing advice and guidance to visitors once the Scottish Government’s order to stay at home is lifted.
The CNPA has committed £572,000 for the delivery of its ranger service and has also increased funding to £190,000 for six partner ranger services at Glen Tanar, Balmoral, Rothiemurchus, Atholl, Angus and Abernethy.
Infrastracture improvements to the tune of £500,000 are also under way, particularly at hotspot areas such as Glenmore and Loch an Eilein in Strathspey, and Mar Lodge in Deeside. Car parks are being extended, paths improved and, in some places, traffic calming measures and other activities are being put in place as part of preparations to accommodate large numbers of visitors over the coming months.
Grant Moir, chief executive of the CNPA, said: “Given that our visitor numbers continue to rise, the Park Authority is providing increased support in terms of investment in both visitor facilities and people on the ground.
“With extra staff in the form of the seasonal rangers from Easter to October, and four new full-time dedicated staff working year round, we will provide considerable help to existing ranger services where required, while providing a service across the whole of the National Park to help ensure that everyone has a great time and behaves responsibly.
“Working with partners such as the National Trust for Scotland, The Highland Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Forestry and Land Scotland, we have been able to pool resources and invest in useful infrastructure projects which will help visitors enjoy the park, protect the park’s precious wildlife and habitats, and support communities across the region.”
A seasonal ranger service was established for the first time in 2020 in response to the high numbers of visitors coming to the park after the first Covid-19 lockdown was lifted. Existing private, charitable and public ranger services were also bolstered by the extra seasonal ‘boots on the ground’.
Recruitment for the additional five young trainee ranger posts is ongoing. For more information visit www.cairngorms.co.uk