National parks of Scotland

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(Redirected from National parks (Scotland))

There are currently two national parks of Scotland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, created in 2002, and Cairngorms National Park, created in 2003. These national parks were designated as such under the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, legislation passed by the devolved government in Scotland, almost 60 years after the idea of British national parks was first suggested.

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; more importantly, much of the land has been worked by humans for thousands of years, in places quite extensively. Like many areas of the Scottish Highlands, historical deforestation, overgrazing by sheep and deer, and extensive 20th century aforestation 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".

Like national parks in England and Wales, each national park in Scotland is administered by a National Park Authority. When the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 was passed to enable the creation of English and Welsh national parks, two objectives were enshrined into the legislation. Updated versions of these two were passed on to the Scottish parks. However, fifty years of experience has meant that Scottish national parks have two further objectives which are not included in the original 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.

The National Park Authority is charged with ensuring that these aims are pursued. Although the four aims have equal status, in accordance with the Sandford Principle, conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage come first in cases of irreconcilable conflict with the other aims.

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