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Conservation, Land Management & Flooding in spotlight

19th July 2016

The Cairngorms National Park has been described as one of the last great places on earth – it is internationally important for nature conservation. Furthermore, the Park is in a position to make a massive contribution to the country’s biodiversity ambitions by enhancing woodland, wetland and montane habitats on a big landscape scale.

So questions about moorland management, deer management, flooding and collaboration are high on the agenda as the consultation on the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) continues.

Launched last month (27th June), Big Park Big Questions is the consultation on the next Cairngorms NPPP for 2017-22. The NPPP is a management plan for the whole Park, setting out a vision and overarching strategy for managing the area. It sets out how all those with a responsibility for the Park will co-ordinate their work to tackle the most important issues.

The first three of ‘The Big 9’ issues – identified to help focus the consultation – all impact upon each other. They are:

  • Landscape Scale Conservation – looking at woodland expansion and habitat enhancement and what are the best ways to support collaboration at a landscape scale? How can designated sites help deliver large scale ecosystem restoration?
  • Deer and Moorland Management – how do we balance grouse moor and deer management with wider habitat and species diversity? Should the Park Partnership Plan set guidance on the appropriate range of deer densities necessary to deliver the public interest?
  • Flood Management – what land use changes are needed to deliver more effective natural flood management and how can they be supported?

The Cairngorms National Park is clearly an area of Scotland with global significance when you consider its natural heritage credentials but the big question is; how do we balance the varying land management objectives across the UK’s largest National Park?

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 are all part of the vision. And with recent storms still fresh in the minds of businesses and residents in the Park, Flood Management is also a key topic with work required that delivers the integration of natural flood management techniques into other upland land objectives.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “The Cairngorms National Park is an outstanding area for wildlife and impressive natural habitats, home to iconic species such as capercaillie, crested tits, wild cats, red squirrels and golden eagles. The National Park is of international significance, and the Park authority is to be commended for setting out its ambitions and inviting views and ideas. We’re really pleased to be able to input our expertise into these big issues which will help the Park Authority offer the leadership, through the plan, to ensure that the Cairngorms remains a special place for nature for generations to come.”

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, commented: “The next management plan is hugely important in shaping the future of the Cairngorms National Park. The Park benefits from the significant social, economic and environmental contribution of Scottish Land & Estates’ members and the Big Park Big Questions consultation will determine how that positive influence is harnessed from 2017 onwards.

“The first three issues – Landscape Scale Conservation, Deer and Moorland Management, and Flood Management – are particularly important in determining the environment of the Park into the next decade. With more than 135,000 hectares of land within the Park now accredited by Wildlife Estates Scotland, landowners are already at the forefront of delivering best practice in these areas and will be ready to maintain and further improve thePark’s natural heritage in future years.”

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said: “The only way to ensure our treasured natural places work for a variety of community purposes, is to ask the community themselves what they want and how they want it to happen. It’s great to see the Cairngorms National Park Authority kicking off this community engagement and SEPA looks forward to learning by being involved in the process.”

CNPA Convener Peter Argyle added: “We are outlining the big issues on which we want peoples’ views. It’s extremely important that we have a wide range of input from partners, communities, businesses and the general public to ensure that the Cairngorms National Park continues to thrive for people and nature. The questions raised in the consultation reflect the issues facing communities within the Park but also the big questions about how the Cairngorms National Park benefits people across Scotland.”

Big Park Big Questions is a 14 week consultation, closing on 30th September. Following this, the proposed NPPP will go before the CNPA board before being submitted to Ministers for approval in the spring of 2017.

You can get more information on the Cairngorms National Park Authority website and keep up to date on Twitter via @cairngormsnews using #BigParkBigQuestions.