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Park Talk: Good work being done

24th August 2017

By Peter Argyle, CNPA Convener

There have been a couple of events over recent days that reflected the importance of land management across the Park and picked up key themes in our newly adopted National Park Partnership Plan.

I attended the recent Hen Harrier Day meeting in Boat of Garten to talk about how the CNPA is working with our partners and the Scottish Government to address the issues of wildlife crime generally and the illegal killing of raptors in particular. The hen harrier is a beautiful and fascinating bird and it is good to know that it is breeding successfully on a number of estates – both privately and publicly owned – across the Park.

Roseanna Cunningham has established an independently-led group to look at the environmental impacts of grouse moor management practices and the CNPA will be participating in that review in due course. We are also working with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland to pilot the use of special constables in the Park as well as exploring the use of advanced technology in the fight against wildlife crime.

The CNPA does not exist to ban things but the illegal killing of wildlife is just that; illegal and has been for many years. We want to see it become socially and culturally unacceptable and will work in partnership with all parties to achieve that end.

The gathering in Boat was well attended with some interesting and challenging speakers. I was pleased my clear statement of the CNPA’s role in all of this was broadly accepted and that I had the opportunity to point out that National Parks in Scotland are very different to those in England.

The Grantown Show was a great day of fantastic livestock and interesting stalls in welcome sunshine. I was there to present the Cairngorms Nature Farm Award and so it was particularly appropriate we were sharing the NFUS stand.

The award went to Malcolm Smith of Auchernack Farm in recognition of the brilliant work he has done with the Butterfly Conservation Trust to safeguard one of the Park’s rarest species, the Dark Bordered Beauty Moth, on his farm.

The CNPA recognises the vital role that land managers, farmers and crofters have in maintaining the landscapes and environment of the Park. These are challenging times for the agricultural sector of course and so this commitment is doubly welcome and important.

Sometimes the publicity around these issues is very negative and can seem to drown out a lot of the good things that are happening in the Park.

We should never lose sight of the simple fact that the Cairngorms National Park is a truly amazing place, home to 25% of the UK’s threatened bird, animal and plant species and 49% of it is designated as being of European importance. It is visited by 1.7m people annually. And that is far from all. It is also a place where 18,000 people live and work.

There is a vast amount of good work being done right across the Park; we all need to work together to ensure that issues like illegal killing of raptors by a tiny minority are consigned to history, as unacceptable as bear baiting.

The CNPA is committed to a strong partnership approach in this area of work in order to achieve that cultural shift.