An “overlooked but priceless” area of the Highlands is being proposed as a potential new national park.
A campaign group is seeking the designation for an area stretching from Loch Ness northwards into Easter Ross.
It says an Affric to Alladale National Park would include some of Scotland’s finest mountains and glens and areas of native woodland.
The move would boost green tourism in the area and generate income for many communities.
At least one new national park in 2026
It could also help create new footpaths and cycle trails and extend access to hillwalking and mountain biking.
Clan chief the Earl of Cromartie is among those who support the proposal.
The Scottish Government is seeking suggestions for at least one new national park in 2026.
The deadline for submissions is February 29 next year.
Affric to Alladale is now one of 10 areas which have expressed interest in joining the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs as national parks.
They include Skye and Raasay, Lochaber and Glen Affric itself.
National park status has also been suggested previously for Harris to help tackle depopulation.
Dan Bailey, a member of the Affric to Alladale team, said: “While the west coast is rightly celebrated, the eastern side of the Highlands has been too often overlooked.
“Yet this landscape of tremendous scenic and ecological value is a priceless natural asset for all of Scotland.
“It deserves the protection and recognition that national park status would bestow.”
Mr Bailey said the area could be at the forefront of Scotland’s efforts to enhance biodiversity and mitigate climate change.
Protection for lochs, glens and forests
He said designation would mean greater recognition for the lochs and forests of Glen Affric and glens of Strathfarrar and Strathconon.
It would include the remote Monar and Mullardoch munros and the Ben Wyvis massif.
Designation would provide further protection for wild land areas and help coordinate re-wilding efforts in Glen Affric, on Ben Wyvis and Alladale.
In addition, it would give a major boost to tourism, generating income for communities including Dingwall, Strathpeffer, Beauly, Cannich and Drumnadrochit.
John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie, is backing the bid.
He said: “A national park that encompasses some of the country’s finest glens and bens in the North East Highlands is overdue.
“A park can both promote green tourism and provide ways to address the impact of increased visitor numbers.
“But the wishes and needs of local residents must be integral to it if we are to fully harness the potential of a new National Park.”
Park would promote and protect recreational assets
Graham Macdonald, of Highland Trail Riders which builds and maintains mountain bike trails in the area, is also behind the move.
“We must all continue to protect, promote, extend and maintain our valued recreational assets,” he said.
“We support the Affric to Alladale National Park bid because it will help improve the trail network in the wider region, increase participation in mountain biking and encourage youth development in the sport at all levels.”