Cairngorms National Park

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Cairngorms National Park to monitor carbon footprint

30th April 2007

THE Cairngorms National Park is to benefit from an innovative partnership project which will measure its carbon footprint for the first time.

The Cairngorms National Park is the UK’s largest National Park and has the country’s largest area of arctic mountain landscape. It is also home to 25 per cent of the UK’s threatened bird, animal and plant species.

Studies have identified the Cairngorms as potentially being an area with the ‘most to lose’ in the short term as a result of climate change, but a new project between three of the Park’s partners will help to identify ways of tackling that threat by measuring and then reducing the area’s carbon footprint.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), which was set up in 2003 along with the Park, has teamed up with the Macaulay Institute and Aberdeenshire Council in the development of their new climate change team.

The programme is largely funded through the Scottish Executive Environmental and Rural Affairs Department. The first outcome of the partnership will give an understanding of the level of green house gas emission within the National Park. This research, which has been grant aided by the CNPA, is due to be published at the end June and will be used to identify ways which will tackle and reduce the emission levels. It will also help to develop methods of adapting to the effects of climate change within the Park.

It will be the first time the Cairngorms National Park has measured its carbon footprint and it is something other UK National Parks are beginning to look at.

Fiona Chalmers, the CNPA’s Integrated Land Management Officer and who is involved in developing the partnership link with Macaulay, said: “There is little doubt that climate change will have an impact on the natural heritage of the Cairngorms National Park, particularly the fragile arctic alpine communities that depend on winter snow cover and cold temperatures and cannot adapt to the speed of change.

“All our partners are agreed on the need to tackle that threat and protect the Park and its special qualities. Before we can do that we need to understand the carbon footprint of the Park and use that to measure our collective progress in reducing emissions.

“We are really pleased to be involved with the Macaulay Institute and its important work in this field. This partnership will not only allow us to identify the Park’s carbon emissions for the first time, but enable us research and identify measures that can be specifically tailored to the needs and special qualities of the Park.

“This work should bring a real difference to the Park and help protect it for future years.”

David Green, the CNPA’s convener, said: “Climate change has become a major political and social issue and it is particularly relevant for the Cairngorms National Park, which is home to some of the most important landscape and wildlife in Europe.

“The Macaulay Institute is renowned for its work in rural land issues. It is therefore very significant to the Cairngorms National Park that the CNPA is involved in its work on climate change.

“This work will be vital in our attempts to understand climate change and its impact on the special qualities of the Park.

“We very much look forward to the results of this research and how it will impact on the future of the Park.”

Bill Slee who is leading the project for the Macaulay Institute said: “It is good to see the Cairngorms National Park Authority addressing the hugely important problem of climate change.

“It is not just the wildlife of the Park but also the economy which is challenged by climate change. We will work closely with the Park Authority in estimating the greenhouse gas footprint in what we anticipate will be a fruitful partnership.

“The Authority’s willingness to face the global challenge in a local context is very encouraging.”

Roddy Matheson, Industry Sector Manager and Renewables Champion with Aberdeenshire Council, said: “There is ample evidence in other countries to prove that good environmental practice is good business practice and we are keen to ensure that north-east Scotland is as well-known for renewables as it is for oil and gas.

“We have a wealth of resources to generate different forms of energy but in particular affordable, renewable heat which is the form of energy most needed in Aberdeenshire and the National Park.

“There is a tremendous opportunity to work in partnership with the National Park to develop energy efficiency and community heating schemes and to co-operate in promoting better quality buildings to reduce the need for energy at source, through efficient design.”

The partnership with Macaulay is just one of a range of projects being carried out by our partners in the Cairngorms National Park to tackle climate change and will tie in with the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the Park’s short and long term future.

The National Park Plan’s Seven Priorities for Action for 2007-2012 all address climate change through a variety of projects, such as developing a sustainable design guide for all new developments within the Park area and improving the range and quality of paths throughout the Park.

As well as the commitments within the National Park Plan a paper outlining a number of further initiatives and projects that the CNPA could carry out in conjunction with its various partners to tackle climate change is due to go to the board in June for decision.