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Park Talk: Exciting times on the Horizon

9th September 2021

By Carolyn Caddick, Deputy Convener, CNPA Board

There are very exciting times ahead for the Cairngorms National Park. I am sure that most readers of this column will have heard about us being awarded funding of £12.5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Heritage Horizons Awards – the only successful applicant in Scotland. This is great news for us all and the announcement back in July marks the beginning of a major transformation for the Cairngorms National Park and will affect how we all live, work and play here.

Bringing together over 45 organisations, Heritage Horizons funding will finance ambitious landscape-scale projects across all areas of the National Park, from tackling the climate emergency and helping nature to recover, to public health benefits and boosting the local economy.

This exciting project – or more accurately, this programme of work – is titled Cairngorms 2030: people & nature thriving together. It will take forward critical projects from the creation of a nature-based dementia centre to citizens’ assemblies fostering local decision-making; from woodland expansion and peatland restoration to nature friendly farming, sustainable transport, green finance, and creating a well-being economy. ‘Cairngorms 2030’ will certainly play its part in addressing the climate emergency, protecting and enhancing our biodiversity, and deliver improvements to people’s health and wellbeing across the park. We are talking about real and meaningful progress and National Lottery Heritage Horizons funding could not have come at a better time.

At the same time, we are also about to begin the formal consultation for the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) – the fourth one since the Park was established in 2003. The NPPP is the document that directs and focusses the key areas of work taking place across the National Park by a range of organisations over the next five years – it’s not an internal document for the Park Authority!

In 2017, when we last asked people for their views on the Cairngorms National Park, none of us were familiar with the word ‘Covid-19’ or the concept of ‘lockdown’, and the world was still waking up to the realities of a climate emergency. So much has changed over the past five years. The next five years will undoubtedly present us with new challenges and opportunities and we really need your help to shape the future direction of the Park, to ensure our next Partnership Plan is focused, relevant and timely.

This is a great opportunity for everyone to help shape the future of the Cairngorms National Park, and coming at this critical time it feels like the most important NPPP we have ever produced. It is vital that the Park Authority listens to the views of all stakeholders so that we can ensure that we find the right way forward. I truly believe that by bringing communities together we can achieve the big ambitions we’re setting out in the draft National Park Partnership Plan and in our ‘Cairngorms 2030’ programme.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of our lives, but it has also thrown a spotlight on how we can, and should, be doing things differently going forward. I recognise that our vision for the future of the Park is ambitious but it needs to be, and we must approach things in new and innovative ways.

Let’s to it together!