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Park Authority awarded £10.7 million to help the Cairngorms become the UK’s first net zero national park

5th February 2024

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £10.7 million to the Cairngorms National Park Authority to deliver Cairngorms 2030, a programme that will inspire people and communities in the National Park to take action and tackle the nature and climate crisis. The programme brings together 20 long-term projects on nature restoration, active travel and sustainable transport, community development and health and wellbeing. Together, they will help the Cairngorms become the UK’s first net zero national park.

Cairngorms 2030 is one of the largest projects ever supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The total value of the programme could reach up to £42.3 million, with further funding potentially coming from the Park Authority, Scottish Government and a range of other partners over coming years.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s national parks are more important than ever in helping us tackle the biodiversity and climate crises – and strengthening our rural communities.

“We are proud to support the Cairngorms to become the UK’s first net zero national park. The Cairngorms 2030 project is an excellent example of over 70 partners working together to deliver benefits for rural communities, businesses and the natural environment.

“Our national parks create new employment opportunities and promote green skills and jobs. They also help to generate and channel investment into the area’s natural resources. Investing in protecting and enhancing Scotland’s precious environment creates great opportunities that will benefit people and communities throughout the country, particularly in rural areas.

“It is really positive that so many communities across the country are discussing the opportunities in their area associated with national park designation and I am excited to hear more about their ideas and proposals. Groups will be submitting their proposals by 29 February and the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity will be visiting the nominated areas that wish to be considered in the spring.”

Sandy Bremner, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “We are delighted to learn that the delivery phase is being supported with £10.7 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This five-year, £42.3 million initiative will put the power to tackle the nature and climate crisis in the hands of the people in the Park. It will benefit people’s health and wellbeing, develop sustainable transport solutions and help nature – and we are ready to get going on delivering for all those who live, work and visit this very special place.

“The development phase of the Cairngorms 2030 programme saw views gathered from more than 4,000 people who live, visit and work in the National Park over almost two years, to help shape plans for the delivery phase we are about to embark on. I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank residents, visitors and our partner organisations for their time and feedback.”

The Cairngorms is the largest national park in the UK, and the programme will involve the delivery of 20 projects over five years, working alongside 70 partners, ranging from the NHS to local schools, non-governmental organisations and land managers to business groups. Together, they will work to tackle the climate emergency and nature crisis, delivering an economy that works for all.

Some specific deliverables in this phase of the Cairngorms 2030 programme are:

  • To become the first national park in the UK to reach net zero​
  • Create the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches of new woodland​
  • Develop the world’s first outdoor dementia resource centre
  • Transform the way people get around the Cairngorms​
  • Pioneer nature-friendly farming and green finance
  • Foster meaningful relationships with under-represented communities
  • Restore 6,500 hectares of carbon-storing peatland ​
  • Prescribe nature on the NHS​
  • Empower communities to shape the future of their area​
  • Restore and enhance three iconic rivers: the Spey, Dee and Esk

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “This is an exciting moment to be able to confirm our award of over £10 million to Cairngorms 2030. Cairngorms 2030 is an ambitious and exemplary project with integrity and heart.

“The project, part of our Heritage Horizons programme which focussed on transformation in heritage, is pioneering – leading the way for the Heritage Fund’s strategic ambition to champion large-scale, long-term and innovative solutions to climate change and nature’s crises, with people at the core.

“As the UK’s largest funder of heritage, we collaborate with organisations who share our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future. I am very proud of how this project has developed as a collective and supportive endeavour to ensure the National Park becomes a global exemplar.

“Over the next 10 years, we aim to invest £3.6 billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players and this programme is one of the ways we can support projects of all sizes across the UK to make a decisive difference for people, places, communities and the natural environment.”

Cairngorms 2030 is one of five ambitious and transformational projects across the UK to be awarded Heritage Horizon Awards. Grants of up to £12.4 million have been awarded to three environment projects: Cairngorms 2030, Peatland Progress in the Cambridgeshire Fens and the UK’s first Marine Park in Plymouth.

In addition to Cairngorms 2030 funding under the Heritage Horizons programme, the Heritage Fund has supported a range of other important projects in the National Park, including the Cairngorms Capercaillie Project; Great Place Scheme: Badenoch Heritage – bringing the past to the 21st century; Tomintoul & Glenlivet Hidden Histories Landscape Partnership; and The Mountains & The People Project.



Pictured, left to right: Katherine Parfitt – Junior Ranger, Anna Parfitt – Junior Ranger, First Minister Humza Yousaf, Sandy Bremner, Convener – Cairngorms National Park Authority, Grant Moir, CEO – Cairngorms National Park Authority, Ray Macfarlane – Scotland Committee Chair and a trustee and Deputy Chair of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Lorna Slater – Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.