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Park Talk: Celebrating Nature

20th May 2021

By CNPA Board Member Judith Webb

Despite having spent the first four months of 2021 in lockdown, I cannot quite believe we are in May already – which for me, means the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend – one of my favourite and most enjoyable events of the year.

Sadly, as last year, we were unable to come together to enjoy the many nature based activities that we, our families and friends have been used to participating in, but the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend was still a success and was enjoyed by the many people who took part in an online or self-guided event.

Despite the challenges, the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend continues to be a great celebration of the fantastic and diverse wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park – even if in 2020 and 2021 it has meant getting up close to nature in the virtual sense! For those quite new to nature watching through to specialist and exclusive items with experts, there is always something for everyone that helps to discover and value our amazing landscapes and wildlife. This year, I particularly enjoyed the Cairngorms Nature Big Weekend webinar – ‘We need nature; nature needs us’ – which explored some of the issues around climate change and biodiversity loss.

As we emerge from this terrible global pandemic, one of the positives is that many more people are realising the benefits of being in nature for our own health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, as we work towards a ‘green recovery’, tackling the climate emergency and biodiversity loss are set to help us bounce back economically. There is funding for, and therefore jobs in, areas such as peatland restoration, forestry, habitat management and species conservation.

Many of you will be aware of the Cairngorms Nature Partnership which brings together people and organisations with a common desire to safeguard and enhance the outstanding nature here in the Park. Every five years, the Partnership produces a Cairngorms Nature Action Plan, setting out the most important things to do over that period and provides a focus for the work of partners.

Next month, the half way progress report for the Cairngorms Nature Action Plan (2019-2024) will be published. However, I am happy to share a few highlights with you now:

  • There has been 2,800ha of new woodland planted against a target of 5,000ha with 90 per cent being native species.
  • 340ha of Ancient Woodland is undergoing active restoration against a target of 750ha.
  • 43km of rivers and riparian corridors are undergoing restoration against a target of 150km.
  • We have more than 300 active conservation volunteers.
  • We have 38 volunteer rangers, with a target of 50 by 2024.

You will have to wait until June for the full report but I can confirm that real progress is being made despite the last 14 months being so challenging.