National parks of Scotland

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National parks of Scotland are managed areas of outstanding landscape where habitation and commercial activities are restricted. At present, Scotland has two national parks: Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, created in 2002, and the Cairngorms National Park, created in 2003. These were designated as such under the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 which was an early piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament not long after its creation in 1999. It was a Scot, John Muir, who had initiated one of the first national parks in the world, at Yosemite in the United States.

In June 2005, the Scottish Executive announced their intention to create Scotland’s first coastal and marine national park. Five possible locations for this were being considered:

Private land ownership

Like the national parks of England and Wales, neither of the Scottish parks are wilderness areas owned by the government. The majority of the land is in private ownership and has been worked by humans for thousands of years. Like many areas of the Scottish Highlands, historical deforestation, overgrazing by sheep and deer, and extensive 20th century afforestation with non-native tree species (particularly conifers) have resulted in landscapes which are semi-natural. Like their English and Welsh counterparts, then, the parks in Scotland are effectively "managed landscapes", and are classified as IUCN Category V Protected Landscapes because of this.

Like national parks in England and Wales, each national park in Scotland is administered by a National Park Authority. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 which led to the creation of the English and Welsh national parks defined two purposes for National Park Authorities relating to conservation and enjoyment. However, Scottish national parks have two additional aims which are not included in the legislation for the parks in England and Wales. Under the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, national parks in Scotland have four aims:

  • To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area
  • To promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area
  • To promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public
  • To promote sustainable economic and social development of the area's communities

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