National Parks Campaign

APRS has been campaigning for National Parks in Scotland for over 60 years. Our current campaign for the Scottish Government to designate more National Parks has been running for over a decade. 

We are very pleased that the Scottish Government has committed to designating at least one new National Park by 2026 and we are continuing to contribute our expertise and views to the process.

This is a joint project with the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP).

Our campaign is backed by the John Muir Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, Mountaineering Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, the Scottish Wild Land Group, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust Scotland.

National Park Nomination Process

The Scottish Government is considering proposals from Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe, Tay Forest and the Scottish Borders, to be Scotland’s next National Park, with a commitment to designate at least one by 2026.

To meet the criteria, groups must be able to demonstrate, among other factors:

● outstanding national importance due to natural or culture heritage
● a distinctive character and coherent identity
● how National Park status would meet the specific needs of the area
● evidence of local support for the proposal

The submission deadline was 29 February 2024, with Scottish Ministers announcing the area or areas to be designated as new National Park(s) (subject to parliamentary approval) in Summer 2024.

Latest news on our Campaign

News

APRS and SCNP are hoping to see a wide range of Scotland’s most special landscapes included in bids – highlighting the support there is around the country for looking after our special places and their potential to do more for nature, culture and the climate whilst benefiting communities and visitors.

Press Release

The Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS) have been campaigning for over a decade for Scotland’s existing tally of two National Parks to be added to, and today welcomed the opening of nominations for new National Parks. 

The case for new National Parks

Scotland’s landscapes rank amongst the best in the world in their richness, quality and diversity.  We have wild mountains, pristine rivers and lochs, ancient forests and stunning coastline and islands, all rich in wildlife and history.  Our landscapes enhance our quality of life and our well-being. They give us inspiration, refreshment and enjoyment.  National Parks provide great opportunities for outdoor recreation, including walking recreation, including walking, cycling, canoeing and mountaineering.  They are one of the main reasons why people visit Scotland, so they support important economic benefits through tourism, our largest industry. With landscapes of such quality you might expect Scotland to have several National Parks – the principal tool used across the world to safeguard and manage fine landscapes. However Scotland has only two.

Our report Unfinished Business (see below) summarises the benefits National Park status brings, and proposes seven further National Parks for Scotland

The next stage of the campaign

We have won the case for designating a new National Park for Scotland, but there is still work to be done. We produced recommendations to the Scottish Government on what needed to be done in order to successfully designate a new National Park.

Next steps

Where will the new National Park be?

Since we started our campaign, local people from several areas highlighted in ‘Unfinished Business’, have set up their own campaigns for a National Park for their area. The Scottish Government will shortly start seeking nominations for the new national park, but you can register interest for new National Parks before then.. Here are some resources that could help communities looking at the possibility of National Park status for their area.

  • The Potential Socio-economic Impacts of a New National Park for Galloway

    This report, published in 2019 gives the socio-economic case for a new National Park in Galloway. A new National Park could provide a significant stimulus to the local economy, attracting at least an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 new visits per year with £30 – £60 million of additional spending and supporting 700 to 1400 jobs. It would attract small businesses and create a more desirable place for people to live.

  • A Galloway National Park?

    This report, commissioned by Dumfries and Galloway Council, is a feasibility study into the potential for a National park in Galloway.

Get Involved!

If you love National Parks and want to see more of them please support our campaign by joining APRS and also please email or write to your MSPs to let them know your views.

A photo of the mountains and sea from Glenfinnan

All the latest news and press releases from APRS

There are loads of ways you can get out and show your love for the countryside around you, and APRS is encouraging you to do just that!

Our Topic Reports

We’ve published a series of topic reports on aspects of the case for more National Parks. We argue that creating more National Parks could provide major economic and tourism boosts to several fragile rural areas in Scotland, pointing to the success of rural areas in other countries where National Parks have played a major role in stemming rural depopulation and providing a range of job opportunities. The reports also cover benefits for increased volunteering and potential governance models.

  • The Socio-economic Benefits of New National Park Designations in Scotland

    This paper discusses the positive socio-economic impacts that new National Park designations could have on specific rural areas in Scotland. It refers to research in the rest of the UK, in Norway, Poland, New Zealand and North America, where a variety of studies have taken place regarding the socio-economic impacts of National Parks on their local areas.

  • Tourism and the Future of National Parks in Scotland

    A paper reviewing the postive impact that having more National Parks in Scotland could have on the visitor economy of the country. The way that other countries with more national parks than Scotland use this to promote tourism is cited.

  • Future National Parks: Possible Governance Models

    A summary of some different governance models for any new National Parks in Scotland with international case studies from France, England, Wales. The paper reviews the types of governance and staffing that may be applicable for different sizes of national park.

  • Volunteering and National Parks in Scotland

    This report reviews how more National Parks in Scotland could generate an increase in volunteering – thereby benefiting the local economy, the environment and the wellbeing of volunteering.

  • Support for Farming in National Parks

    This briefing written in 2019 gives examples of how National Parks are supporting farming and the benefits of National Parks to farming

What is a National Park?

‘National Park’ is the leading internationally-recognised designation for places of the highest national importance for natural or cultural heritage, including landscape, wildlife and recreation.  Many Parks are truly wild; others, as in Scotland, are wholly or partly inhabited, working landscapes.  They stand proudly alongside world-renowned places such as Jotunheimen in Norway, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, the Karakoram in Pakistan and Yosemite in the USA.

What Benefits do National Parks Bring to Scotland?

National Parks bring many environmental, social and economic benefits to local residents, to visitors and to Scotland as a whole.  They provide a clear focus on a particular place, mechanisms to stimulate and co-ordinate positive conservation management, and additional resources to reflect its importance to the nation.  National Parks benefit from an agreed plan designed to safeguard the area’s special qualities for future generations whilst managing tourism, transport, energy, agriculture, forestry and fishing in integrated and positive ways.  They can inspire pride and passion amongst local people and visitors. 

The Scottish Government provides national funding to sustain the communities in and around National Parks, encouraging jobs which support and look after these special places and their ways of life.  The Parks bring visitors to remote areas, benefit tourism and other land-use interests, and generate new commercial and marketing opportunities.  National Parks supplement and add value to existing designations rather than duplicate or replace them.  The designation is permanent; where other arrangements may come and go, National Parks are rarely abolished.

The Story of the Campaign for National Parks

APRS and SCNP have been campaigning for over 60 years for National Parks for Scotland. There is more information about this in the resources below.

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