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CEO looks back on 2020!

10th December 2020

By Grant Moir, Chief Executive, Cairngorms National Park Authority  

When we embarked on 2020 the CNPA’s focus was firmly on what we can do in the Park to combat the climate emergency. However, it was following our climate conference – looking at nature based solutions back in March – that the country was plunged into lockdown due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.

As we left the office to work from home, I don’t think many of us thought we would still be working from home some nine months later. Covid-19 has challenged us all personally and professionally but has also shown the best of people across the Park, for instance, volunteers, including Park staff, delivering shopping to those who were shielding.

The Covid pandemic has massively affected communities, businesses and individuals across the Park and we are still seeing the impacts play out. I am proud to say that our staff and board, along with partners such as the Cairngorms Business Partnership (CBP) and The Cairngorms Trust rose to the challenge.

The CNPA agreed a Green Recovery Plan in June and launched with the Cairngorms Trust a Green Recovery Fund that has supported 13 projects this year which you can read more about here. We also worked with public, private and third sector partners through the Tourism Emergency Response Group and the Cairngorms Visitor Management Group to tackle some of the key issues affecting the Park this past summer. The reopening of the Park in July was a challenge with so many people wanting to come and enjoy the area and some of the issues that this caused around dirty camping, traffic management etc.

The CNPA responded to these issues in partnership with Estates, CBP, Local Authorities and others focusing on a #CairngormsTogether message. The CNPA recruited and trained nine seasonal rangers to help protect the Park’s hotspots. They spoke to over 5000 visitors and almost 1000 camps, encouraging them to do the right thing in terms of litter, human waste, parking and fires. They worked with the Parks existing ranger services as well as the volunteer rangers – and this additional resource was appreciated across the board.

Despite the roll-out of the much welcomed coronavirus vaccine, I suspect next year will be very busy again across the Park and the CNPA will be working with partners to develop the right visitor management plans for next season during this winter. We love to welcome visitors to the Park and we want to ensure that everyone has a great time, respects the Park, its communities, landscapes and wildlife.

The climate emergency and biodiversity crisis have not gone away but there are big opportunities in 2021 to tackle these, and to build on ongoing work around health and active travel. So while 2020 has been dominated by Covid-19 and has affected how we work – the CNPA has still achieved a great deal from funding for capercaillie conservation, undertaking peatland restoration, supporting projects through the Green Recovery Fund, promoting our cultural heritage assets via projects like The Shinty Trail and finalising the next Local Development Plan for the Park. The list is long but there is still much to do to support people, businesses & nature in the Park.

So I will end by taking the opportunity to wish all of you a very merry and safe Christmas and let’s look forward to a better, brighter 2021.