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Cairngorms National Park


Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030

Now is the time to do things differently and for us all to come together to lead on innovative, collaborative, and transformative change as we tackle the climate emergency and nature crisis and deliver an economy that works for all

The Cairngorms - Where People and Nature Thrive Together

Cairngorms National Park resident and young farmer, Lucy Gordon tells us how communities and residents of the Park are rediscovering their Dùthchas, (the Gaelic word that describes the understanding between land, people and culture) in order to tackle some of the most important climate challenges facing us.

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We Did It!

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and national lottery players, the Cairngorms National Park Authority is delighted to announce the formal programme launch of Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030. This 1.5-year development phase will culminate in the production of a stage two funding application to the NLHF in June 2023.

Our ambition is large scale, inclusive, transformational change that delivers our collective climate and biodiversity responsibilities.  Acting comprehensively across the UK’s largest National Park, you will give residents and visitors the tools to make a difference. With over 45 committed partners, our collective endeavour is for the Park to become a global exemplar with integrity and heart, where the future is placed in the hands of the people and communities that live, work and visit here.

“With over 45 committed partners, our collective endeavour is for the Park to become a global exemplar with integrity and heart, where the future is placed in the hands of the people and communities that live, work and visit here. ”


We believe it is by people coming together that we tackle the climate emergency and nature crisis, and deliver an economy that works for all.

Our ambition is large scale, inclusive, transformational change that delivers our collective climate and biodiversity responsibilities.  Acting comprehensively across the UK’s largest National Park, people will have the agency and the tools to make a difference, including:

  • Improving people’s health and livelihoods by fundamentally shifting our approach to deliver a wellbeing economy, outdoor health programmes, a nature-based dementia centre and engaging, inclusive learning and outreach.
  • Empowering diverse communities through sharing power to co-design decisions and activities via citizens’ assemblies, substantial community managed grants and innovative land use collaborations.
  • Enhancing nature through green finance, woodland expansion, peatland restoration, river catchment management, deer management, nature friendly farming, landscape connections and sustainable transport.
  • Continually sharing our learning through a global knowledge exchange programme.

With over 45 committed partners, our collective endeavour is for the Park to become a global exemplar with integrity and heart, where the future is placed in the hands of the people and communities that live, work and visit here.  Within the Cairngorms National Park, people and nature will thrive together.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is a global climate emergency!  The evidence is irrefutable, the science is clear, and people have been clear:  They expect action.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark warning last year: ‘The world must act now!’.  Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, issued a warning about the damage human beings are causing to the planet and its biodiversity.  It found that the drivers of damage have accelerated over the past 50 years.  Climate change is one of the top three causes.

The transformative changes that are needed present social, ecological and economic opportunities, but there will be risks and challenges to overcome.  Through this project we aim to ensure a just transition that promotes social cohesion and equality and improves community wellbeing.  We will act through our themes of People, Power and Place and act on a landscape scale to make a difference.

Through People and Power our response to the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis focuses on empowering communities to use their own knowledge and decision-making processes to take action.  Effective community engagement and empowerment enables positive and cooperative working relationships, this can lead to creative and innovative solutions to issues and better economic, environmental and cultural outcomes for all parties.

Effective community empowerment will also reduce inequalities and improve the wellbeing of communities, support people to take more control over their lives and give them more power and influence over what matters to them.  The most important thing is that they make up their own minds, it must be a bottom-up approach, decisions made in this manner will stand the test of time and communities will feel invested in the outcomes.

The project will also provide the opportunity for people to have greater control over land as a resource.  We will test new land management and ownership models across land owned by the public, private and third sector.

Through Place and by working with communities, we will promote nature-based solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss including woodland expansion, peatland restoration, carbon neutral farming and improved river catchment management.  The project also provides the opportunity to develop and promote a transport modal shift and behaviour change on a landscape-scale with a focus on sustainable and active travel.  We will promote the redesign of our town centres with a focus on ’20-minute neighbourhoods’ to underpin strong and sustainable communities, where people enjoy good access to local jobs, services, amenities, social infrastructure, green space, diversity of housing, safe walking and cycling networks, good public transport and a rich social and cultural life.

This is a shared, national endeavour: we all need to think more about how we can make our lives more sustainable, cutting down on waste and excess.  It is also vital that lessons are shared.  The project will be an international exemplar of how people and nature can thrive together, acting as a beacon for similar large-scale transformation across the world.

By 2030 it will be too late to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees!  But today, if we act quickly, it is not too late for us to turn things around.  However, to do so requires transformative change.  This is not just about government action and it is not something that only affects Scotland.  We all have a part to play; individuals, communities, businesses, other organisations.

The steps we take to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis will also help Scotland’s green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Business as usual is no longer an option, we must build back more sustainably, work with nature rather than against it, and deliver a healthier and happier environment for all.  The changes we seek now will deliver long-term benefits for people and place.

The project has been developed with subject level experts across the public, private and third sector. The Project Advisory Panel consists of leaders from a broad range of organisations involved in climate research, public engagement, land management, youth and community development, public health, environment sector and the wellbeing economy. The project has also been shaped by discussions with local authorities, public bodies and community groups.

The project development process to date has resulted in a shared vision and set of aims, objectives and cross-cutting delivery principles. This collaborative process then went on to identify, shape and confirm the broad range of priority projects for delivery.  Delivery partners and stakeholders are agreed that the programme offers a unique opportunity to deliver on shared goals to tackle the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

If this project only reaches some people or only those who are already keen to take part, it will have failed.  It must be both comprehensive and inclusive in approach and involvement.  While involving everyone (all residents and visitors) is ambitious, failing to try is not good enough.  Although the target audiences are the 18,500 residents and the 1.9 million visitors per year, we will ensure that this project particularly focuses on the following audience segments.

For residents:

  • Communities of place: Widespread community empowerment is essential and the project will work closely with geographical communities to create models for others to follow
  • Communities of Interest: Particularly land managers, but also businesses and activity groups will often require specific projects to tackle certain issues or seize particular opportunities
  • People with poor or fragile health: Improving mental and physical health and wellbeing is a vital strand of this project and it will be important to target those with the most to gain. This includes the elderly and isolated
  • People living in income poverty: We need to create a more just and equitable society, this means engaging with those who have the least, to enable them to benefit from the opportunities that a wellbeing economy can bring
  • River catchment communities of Speyside, Deeside and Angus: The residential areas that are most at risk of flooding and drought
  • Vehicle users: Those using petrol / diesel vehicles to travel within the Park, supporting a modal shift to ebike, EV bus services and EV private vehicles.
  • Volunteers: Becoming actively involved in habitat management and visitor engagement increases ownership and shares understanding as well as contributing to wellbeing
  • Young people: Young people are the future of our communities and places; it is incumbent on us to ensure they are involved directly with the decisions that will shape their future lives.

For visitors:

  • Vehicle users: Those using petrol / diesel vehicles to travel to and within the Park, supporting a modal shift to ebike, EV bus services and EV private vehicles.
  • Accommodation providers: Those operating hotel, B&B or self-catering accommodation who can support net-zero tourist destination promotion
  • Business owners: Those operating key visitor destinations, shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants who can support a modal shift to ebike. provision of EV charge points and promotion of sustainable transport to guests

The development phase will last 1.5 years and consist of a programme of works to engage, empower and inspire residents, businesses and visitors to the Park.  It will also add detail to the project proposals, provide more accurate costs and develop the knowledge exchange programme.

The development phase will focus on delivering action research type activities so that evidence-based plans can be created for the 5-year delivery phase addressing the following key areas:

  • Identifying those who don’t normally engage with our services and how to involve them.
  • Raising climate ‘literacy’ and understanding of net-zero (nature and carbon), green recovery and the wellbeing economy.
  • Understanding community’s (of place and interest) awareness, values, interests, barriers and ambitions regarding coexisting with nature and net-zero.
  • Delivering social-science methodologies, collective leadership models and a community skills development programme to understand people’s landscape, sustainable transport and climate change values and ambitions for the future.
  • Piloting the co-design of system change across different governance structures. Framing behaviours within a wider picture of collective action and shared responsibility that will inspire individuals to act.
  • Progressing, through four Sustrans active travel and place-making design stages to create communities that are shaped around people, with walking or cycling the most popular choice for shorter everyday journeys.
  • Consultation and option analysis with land managers and communities on landscape-scale woodland expansion, peatland restoration, improved catchment management, carbon neutral farming and integrated deer management.
  • Developing inclusive and holistic knowledge exchange/research plans for the project.

The wider key actions during the development phase are identified as:

  • Appoint development phase staff across all three themes.
  • Co-create a shared long-term vision for the Cairngorms in 2030 and beyond to Scotland’s net-zero target of 2045.
  • Identify landholding partners to take part in Scottish Land Commission’s self-assessment process.
  • Develop our outline plan into a comprehensive and inclusive communications strategy.
  • Prepare climate change action plans for community-led delivery.
  • Produce a baseline carbon audit and reporting plan.
  • Conduct a ‘Cairngorms Wellbeing Economy Stocktake’.
  • Competitively tender the design development works for capital works and other consultancy.
  • Developing a more detailed Project Plan with individual programme action plans with updated delivery phase programme, costs and funding.

During the development phase there will be a comprehensive and coordinated programme of climate information workshops, communications and social media.  The aim of this will be to ensure people in the Park are knowledgeable about climate change, its impacts on people and nature and be aware of how they can be involved in mitigating these impacts.

This information programme will be followed by a Park wide deliberative process to create a shared vision for the Cairngorms in 2030 and beyond.  This process will be run along similar lines to a citizens’ assembly or jury to ensure people from all sectors of the Cairngorms community are involved.  This process will also begin to identify potential opportunities and projects for communities to be involved with to mitigate climate impacts.

Approved development phase projects

A broad range of projects will be taken forward in the development stage and are highlighted here. Please feel free to contact the named project lead if you require further information or would like to get involved.


Opportunities to join The Cairngorms 2030 programme team will be detailed here


Opportunities to join The Cairngorms 2030 programme team will be detailed here

Consultation and engagement

Community wide engagement will commence in January 2022.

Delivery Phase

During the delivery phase, the opportunities and ideas identified through the deliberative process will be used as a basis for community consultation in communities in the Cairngorms to develop and deliver Climate-Resilient Community Plans.

Table of Projects

ThemeTheme LeadProjectWhat is it?
PeopleOlly Davies, Head of CommunicationsWellbeing EconomyDeveloping an economic model for the Park that benefits people and nature, whilst protecting the planet's resources for future generations. 
Public health and the outdoorsDeveloping an NHS cross sectoral partnership focused on preventative green health referrals and access to the outdoors.  
Dementia Activity Resource CentreDemonstrating the benefits of outdoor dementia care and designing world class therapeutic green health interventions
Climate learning and educationEmpowering and inspiring our young people to deliver net zero and biodiversity targets. 
Outreach and engagement programmePark wide inclusive participatory programme of workshops to create a shared vision for the Cairngorms in 2030. 
Community Arts and Culture programmeConnecting people with their traditional culture to develop community, belonging and sustainability
PowerGavin Miles, Head of Strategic PlanningClimate conscious communitiesEmpowering people to take responsibility for change and see the benefits flow to their communities. 
Citizens’ Assembly / JuryCreate a forum to explore and develop ground-up projects to contribute to net zero targets and a wellbeing economy. 
Community Managed Grant SchemeGiving communities the power to define, design, fund and deliver projects that matter to them. 
Regional Land Use Partnership & Land Rights and ResponsibilitiesAn international showcase for inclusive and equitable land management that tests new models and collaborations for people to engage with nature
PlaceColin McLean, Head of Land ManagementGreen Investment PlanPlanning, piloting and delivering a blend of private and public finance to contribute to net zero and biodiversity targets. 
Woodland expansionIncrease woodland cover in the Park by 1,000ha between 2023 and 2028. 
Peatland restorationRestore 3,500ha of peatland in the Park. 
Deer managementDeer management is a major land use covering over c50% of the Park.  We will develop Strategic Land Use Plans with Deer Management Groups to deliver climate, nature and economic benefits. 
Sarah Henshall, Head of ConservationClimate Resilient CatchmentsIncrease climate change resilience to reduce flood risk and ensure that rivers continue to deliver for the people and wildlife that depend upon them. 
Cairngorms Future FarmingTo demonstrate that carbon zero (or even carbon negative) farming is possible, practical and profitable in the Cairngorms. 
Landscape and communitiesDiscuss, celebrate and promote the Parks landscapes, its value to people and options for change. 
Pete Crane, Head of Visitor ServicesE-bike networkTo develop an integrated e-bike network that results in a significant reduction in personal car use by visitors and residents moving around the Park.  
Glenmore Transport PlanDevelop new sustainable visitor transport model for Aviemore–Glenmore–Cairngorm area.
Active Travel in Badenoch and StrathspeyCreate the infrastructure required to connect communities and provide an alternative to car use for short daily journeys for residents and visitors. 
Sustainable Transport in Deeside & AngusDeveloping, testing and delivering electric public transport that meets community and visitor needs.  
Sustainable Transport in Highland PerthshireDeveloping high quality walking and cycling infrastructure to reduce car use and promote sustainable and active transport. 
Active AviemoreDeveloping high quality segregated walking and cycling infrastructure to increase active travel and reduce car use in the Park’s biggest and busiest town.