Big Park Big Questions

Grant Moir, CEO of Cairngorms National Park Authority, describes the nine issues to be addressed in the new Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan and encourages everyone to take part in the conversation.

The Big 9 graphic. CNP

The Cairngorms National Park is an incredible place and whether it’s sitting on the beach at Loch Morlich, walking in the high hills or fishing on the Dee it is a place that enchants all who visit. It is also a place with some great stats with the Park being home to 25% of the UK’s threatened bird, animal and plant species and 49% designated as being of European importance – more than any other part of Scotland. It is also visited by around 1.7 million people each year and 18,000 people live and work in the area.

Watersports at Loch Morlich. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Watersports at Loch Morlich. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

However, there are some big issues that we are seeking views on through the consultation on the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP). This starts on 27 June and aims to engage people in the big questions.

Big Park Big Questions is the consultation and it is focusing on nine key issues:

  • Landscape Scale Conservation
  • Deer and Moorland Management
  • Flood management
  • Visitor infrastructure
  • Active Cairngorms
  • Learning and Inclusion
  • Community Capacity
  • Housing
  • Economic Development

A great deal of work has been done during the life of the current Park Plan from woodland expansion and improving the access network to the 25,000th John Muir Award and the start of a GP Referral system for health walks.

Walking to Health project walking group on their weekly walk at Ballater, Grampian. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

A Walking to Health project walking group on their weekly walk at Ballater. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

There is much to build on but there are still some big challenges, from delivering the right kind of housing to habitat enhancement and improving the visitor experience – all areas of work which impact upon each other.

The biggest contribution the Cairngorms can make to our national biodiversity ambitions is enhancing the woodland, wetland and montane habitats on a big landscape scale. So questions about deer management, moorland management and collaboration are high on the agenda. Going forward we’d like to see better connected natural systems, restored montane woodland habitat, improvements in raptor population conservation, the expansion of peatland restoration projects and land management practices further contributing to wider habitat and species diversity.

Black grouse males displaying at a lek site. ©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Black grouse males displaying at a lek site. ©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

With Storms Frank and Desmond still fresh in the minds of businesses and residents in the Park, Flood Management is also a key topic and we want to work with partners to support work that delivers the integration of natural flood management techniques into other upland land objectives.

As well as healthy habitats for wildlife we want to make sure that the Park is keeping people healthy too. We are asking how we can use the great network of outdoor access infrastructure to help raise physical activities levels among residents and visitors and how can we encourage more environmental volunteering?

This is a National park and we want to encourage a conversation around the direction that the Park should take over the next five years and beyond on these key issues. These are Big Questions and we want your answers.

Big Park Big Questions closes on 30 September and should be submitted to Ministers for approval in the spring of 2017. There is more information on the CNPA website  and you can keep up to date on Twitter via @cairngormsnews using #BigParkBigQuestions.

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