People are being invited to share their views on Scotland’s national parks as a consultation opens on plans to create the first new one in almost 20 years.
The Scottish Government committed to establish at least one new national park in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary session in 2026, as part of the powersharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Green Party and the programme for government.
The public consultation will look at what people value about the country’s national parks and what they should deliver in future – in particular, how they can help to protect and restore nature, tackle climate change and promote sustainable land use.
It will also ask what criteria the Scottish Government should use to decide where the next national park in Scotland should be.
Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater visited Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park to open the consultation, and speak to pupils at Luss Primary School, who have been involved in a local Cop 26 legacy tree-planting project.
She said: “It is almost two decades since Scotland’s first national parks in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs and the Cairngorms were established. Both are home to some of the country’s most outstanding scenery, are internationally important areas for nature, and receive millions of visitors each year.
“They work hard to tackle the biodiversity and climate crisis, help manage facilities for visitors, promote responsible access and develop sustainable communities. They have become jewels in Scotland’s crown, and now is the time to add to them.
“We are committed to establish at least one new national park in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary session in 2026. To be able to do this in an open and transparent manner, we need to be able to assess any new area which is to be considered for national park status against a set of agreed expectations.
“This is where we need your help and ideas. We want to gauge what people want their national parks to deliver for the environment, culture and the communities within their boundaries.
“I would strongly encourage everyone to take part and ensure your views are heard and reflected in the shaping of this historic expansion of Scotland’s national parks.”
The Scottish Government said it is aware of at least 10 communities or groups which have recently expressed interest in national park status, so some means of evaluation will be needed to identify the candidate areas to be progressed.
Currently, no criteria for selecting national parks exist apart from the limited statutory criteria in the National Park (Scotland) Act.
NatureScot has been asked to lead a further initial phase of work to provide advice on a framework to ministers by the end of October and will engage with a range of stakeholders as part of the process.
Ministers will then approve the framework and carry out further consultation on areas which are proposed candidates for national park status.
– The consultation can be found at https://www.ideas.gov.scot/the-future-for-national-parks-in-scotland