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Arctic visitors learn from Cairngorms National Park

30th June 2008

A group of officials from north Norway’s Troms County visited the Cairngorms National Park earlier this week (23-25 June) to find out more about how the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and other agencies operating in the area are dealing with difficult issues, such as the creation of new national parks, renewable energy developments and ways of dealing with conflict between different interest groups.

Troms County – which covers an area of land extending to 25,147 sq km and is home to 153,000 residents – is currently dealing with the establishment of a new national park (Norway already has over 30 national parks), several landscape protection areas and major wind farm developments. The region and its capital Tromso is also preparing an ambitious bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2018 and if successful, it would be the first time that the event has been held inside the Arctic Circle.

The group, which included the Regional State Governor for Troms County and the Director of the Norwegian national nature conservation agency, were keen to learn more about community engagement in Scotland’s national parks and especially across a wide variety of groups; the management of areas of high conservation value and how any conflicts are dealt with in these areas. They have also been looking at how Scotland – and national parks in particular – approach renewable energy projects.

Duncan Bryden, CNPA planning committee convener guided the group during their short visit, which started in Aberdeenshire. He said: “There is a move in Norway to listen more to the voice of local people when declaring protected areas. Scotland is seen as a pioneer in this type of engagement.”

The visit marks a return trip for senior officials from Troms County. In 2007 a larger group spent a week in Scotland looking at waste water treatment, national parks, sporting estates and fish farming. The group met with representatives from the CNPA, Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Before leaving, Svein Ludvigsen, Regional State Governor of Troms County explained why they returned to the Cairngorms: “We want to learn how to best protect the natural landscape and still allow people to use the land. Your national park approach allows this to happen.”

During their 3-day stay, the group also visited Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and met with officials from the Scottish Government and the chairman of the John Muir Trust, Dick Balharry, who is based in Newtonmore.