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Park Talk: Welcome to 2022!

26th January 2022

By Xander McDade, CNPA Board Convener.

Welcome to 2022! After all the upheavals of 2020 and 2021, I do hope that this coming year is more settled for everyone. As I write this blog it looks like Covid cases are starting to slow following record levels, post festive season, and the Scottish Government has eased some of the restrictions. Still, I do remain unsure of what to expect in the coming days and weeks with people now back at work and pupils back at school. Please do continue to follow all the guidance to ensure that everyone stays safe.

There are a few things I can confidently predict though! I expect the staycation will remain a popular holiday choice for people in 2022. Whether that be touring in a campervan, renting a self catering holiday cottage or booking into a local hotel – we will once again need to prepare ourselves for healthy numbers of visitors coming to the National Park. This is of course really good news for the Park economy given the impacts that two lockdowns and various restrictions have had on businesses.

The considerable investment made by the CNPA and partners in infrastructure and people over the last 12-18 months means that we are well prepared for increasing numbers of holiday makers – investing in upgrading paths and extending car parks in popular locations like Linn of Dee and Loch Morlich, for example. We are starting to look at recruitment for the 2022 Seasonal Rangers and while budgets are still to be finalised, please be assured that we will do everything possible to ensure there are as many pairs of ‘boots on the ground’ as required, helping everyone to stay safe while enjoying everything the Cairngorms National Park has to offer.

I can also confidently tell you that the Cairngorms Nature BIG Weekend will be back from the 13th-15th May. After a challenging few years, we are more excited than ever to get stuck in to the BIG Weekend 2022. From an entirely online event in 2020 to a scaled down, largely self-led event in 2021, we are keeping our fingers crossed that our headline event of the year will have that familiar, full-on feel that we have enjoyed in the past with lots of nature inspired events for people of all ages to enjoy.

By the time we get to the summer months I can also assure you that all your comments on the Draft Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan (NPPP) will have been studied and considered and a final version of the NPPP will have been published and endorsed by Scottish Government. We know from the responses received during the consultation that issues relating to nature and the environment are high on your agenda along with housing that is affordable for local workers along with improved public transport. Once published, the NPPP will set out how all those with a responsibility for the Cairngorms National Park will co-ordinate their work to tackle these important issues, setting a framework for all the public bodies delivering relevant functions here.

And finally, in 2022, we will seek to finalise all the project plans for the development phase of our Heritage Horizons project. We are talking about significant transformational change here in the Park that will benefit people’s health and wellbeing, deliver on climate change and enhance biodiversity. With funding from the National Lottery and a new National Park Partnership Plan in place, we are entering probably one of the most exciting eras for the Park since it was established in 2003. Watch this space!