Park set to welcome visitors with £1m investment in people and infrastructure
23rd March 2021
The Cairngorms National Park is preparing to welcome visitors back this summer with a record £1m investment having been made in staffing and infrastructure to ensure everyone enjoys their visit while safeguarding the area’s special wildlife, landscapes and communities.
Good Friday (2nd April) marks the first official day of duties for the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s Seasonal Rangers for the 2021 season – and more are joining them following approval last week by the Park Authority Board to go ahead with four new full-time permanent ranger posts. In total, there will be over 35 rangers on the ground across the Park between the CNPA and partners, all providing useful advice and guidance to visitors.
The timing of the CNPA’s Rangers getting to work coincides with the lifting of the Scottish Government’s Stay at Home order, however people are encouraged to ‘stay local’ – which means no overnight stays – until at least the 26th April. The team will be a regular sight across all areas of the National Park, will have a particularly visible presence at the most popular outdoor locations and will also be present at various times in the Park’s communities.
The CNPA has committed £572,000 for the delivery of a CNPA Ranger Service and has also increased funding to £190,000 for six partner ranger services in the National Park – Glen Tanar, Balmoral, Rothiemurchus, Atholl, Angus and Abernethy.
Infrastructure improvements are also underway, particularly at hotspot areas such as Glenmore and Loch an Eilein in Strathspey, and Mar Lodge in Deeside. Car parks are being extended, paths improved and, in some places, traffic calming measures and other activities are underway as part of multi-partner preparations to accommodate large numbers of visitors over the coming months.
A total of £500,000 has been committed to visitor infrastructure by the CNPA in 2021, with other funding being committed by partner organisations to try and ensure that the visitor facilities are in place for what will no doubt be a busy season ahead.
Grant Moir, Chief Executive of the CNPA, said: “Given that our visitor numbers continue to rise, the Park Authority is providing increased support in terms of investment in both visitor facilities and people on the ground. With extra staff in the form of the Seasonal Rangers from Easter to October, and four new full-time dedicated staff working year round, we will provide considerable help to existing ranger services where required, while providing a service across the whole of the National Park to help ensure that everyone has a great time and behaves responsibly.
“Working with partners such as the National Trust for Scotland, The Highland Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Forestry and Land Scotland, we have been able to pool resources and invest in useful infrastructure projects which will help visitors enjoy the Park, protect the Park’s precious wildlife and habitats, and support communities across the region.”
Xander McDade, the CNPA Board Convener, commented: “Early in the pandemic the CNPA Board took the decision to invest in Seasonal Rangers to assist with a predicted post lockdown rise in visitors. This decision paid off last summer and our ranger provision was essential to support our communities. Following the success of last year’s Seasonal Ranger service I’m delighted that we have now been able to secure significant funding for the Authority’s first ever permanent ranger service. This signals our continued commitment to supporting our communities, businesses and land managers with visitor management. I believe this also demonstrates the real benefits of increased support from being in a National Park.
“I’m also very pleased with the partnership work that has been done over the winter in preparing for the end of lockdown and we’re all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the Cairngorms National Park. Tourism is a critical part of our economy and the Park Authority is committed to supporting this and other sectors as part of our Green Recovery Plan.”
Al Smith, the CNPA’s Ranger Manager, said: “We have an excellent and very experienced team of Seasonal Rangers, many of whom were with us last summer and know the area well. Their key role is to be there to offer a warm welcome to visitors to the Cairngorms National Park, and ensure people have all the necessary information to have an enjoyable and safe time.”
A seasonal ranger service was established for the first time in 2020 in response to the high numbers of visitors coming to the Park after the first Covid-19 lockdown was lifted. Existing private, charitable and public ranger services were also bolstered by the extra seasonal ‘boots on the ground’.
Recruitment for an additional five Kickstart Youth Placement opportunities – offering a start in this type of career for young people – is already underway and has been made possible through a collective UK National Parks’ bid. The scheme was developed by the UK Government and provides funding for employers to create job placements for young adults aged 18 – 24 on Universal Credit. The CNPA’s five Trainee Ranger posts are being recruited via local Job Centres.
More information is available on the CNPA website: www.cairngorms.co.uk