Help us pick the best place for Sotland's third National Park - Lorna Slater

It is over 20 years since Scotland last established a National Park. So, this month, I was delighted to announce that the Scottish Government will be creating at least one more by 2026.

By Lorna Slater
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 7:00 am
Hillwalkers take in the view from Conic Hill overlooking Loch Lomond
Hillwalkers take in the view from Conic Hill overlooking Loch Lomond

The first stage of the consultation, launched on 13 May, focuses on what we value about our 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.

This will be followed by a longer period during which people, communities, local authorities and other organisations will be encouraged and supported to develop their proposals for new parks. Everyone can take part.

At present we have two National Parks in Scotland: Loch Lomond & the Trossachs and the Cairngorms. These are wonderful spaces that have provided great days and lifelong memories for people all across our country and beyond.

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Both parks are home to some of the country’s most outstanding scenery and wildlife. They are rightly valued by millions and have become two of the brightest jewels in Scotland’s crown.

In my role as Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity I will be working with NatureScot and my Scottish Government colleagues to decide which park(s) will be getting the designation.

It’s not just National Parks that I am interested in. It is all green spaces. Over the last two years, more of us have used our local parks. They have provided sanctuary, comfort, and stability during what has been a very hard time for many.

In Scotland we are blessed with beautiful landscapes. Our lochs, glens, mountains, and coastlines are world renowned. Even here in Edinburgh we have Holyrood Park, which is a city park like no other. These are the lungs of our nation, and we need to look after them.

That is why, with Greens in government, we are investing in them and ensuring that they are a centrepiece in our efforts to support our stunning and unique biodiversity and tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

Last November I was proud to announce £12.5 million worth of investment in local projects that protect our species, woodlands, rivers and seas. This was done via our Nature Restoration Fund. Over the next four years we will be investing at least £65 million through the fund.The actions we take today won’t just benefit us; they will benefit future generations. The importance of this legacy was emphasised by a visit I made to Luss Primary School to launch the consultation.

The pupils shared a poem with me. It began ‘In my magic box I will put the trees whispering in the forest air. The wind flowing through the forest like a melody. The living leaves swaying gently on the creaking branches.”

These are simple but wonderful images that I want all children to experience, whether they are in Loch-side communities like Luss or busy cities like Edinburgh.

This is where we need your help and your ideas. National Parks are for all of us, so we should all have a say in what they provide and where they are.

The first consultation will be running until 6 June, so please take part at ideas.gov.scot/the-future-for-national-parks-in-scotland and ensure that your views are heard and reflected in shaping this historic decision.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity