‘Scotland’s National Parks – The Mountains and The People’is a five-year project that aims to engage people in protecting and maintaining cherished Scottish peaks and create training opportunities for 48 young people
A partnership led by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT) has today welcomed the award of £3.28m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to ‘Scotland’s National Parks – The Mountains and The People’ project, which will protect the mountains of Scotland’s National Parks and engage the people of Scotland in caring for upland landscapes.
The project represents the coming together of Scotland’s two National Parks – Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park – to work on a scale never previously attempted and in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland over a five-year period.
COAT led the successful application for HLF funding and will commit £612,177 to the project, which will be matched by contributions from; Cairngorms National Park Authority (£275,000); Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority (£525,000); Scottish Natural Heritage (£200,000) and Forestry Commission Scotland (£525,000) with the remainder coming from corporate sponsorship and charitable trusts, to give an overall total of £6.1m.
Stretching for 1,800 square kilometres with a stunning combination of lochs, mountains, forests and glens, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is among Scotland’s busiest countryside attracting four million visitors annually. Iconic Ben Lomond and The Cobbler are just two of the 23 mountains in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs that will benefit from the ambitious project.
Cairngorms National Park meanwhile boasts Britain’s highest and largest mountain range and at 4,528 sq km is the largest of all the UK’s 15 National Parks. Beinn A Ghlo, just off the A9 is one of the mountaineer must-dos that will see prolonged, sustained damage repaired using techniques pioneered by COAT during the now complete, four-year £2.1m Cairngorms Mountain Heritage Project.
‘Scotland’s National Parks – The Mountains and The People’ project comprises six different elements:
- The Upland Path Programme will upgrade, enhance and repair a range of prioritised routes including severely eroded paths on Beinn A Ghlo, Ben Ledi and Mount Keen.
- The Training Programme will run seven month vocational training courses in the south Loch Lomond and Cairngorms areas to provide young people with the necessary accredited skills to take up employment opportunities created by the maintenance of Scotland’s mountains in the longer term and elsewhere.
- The Conservation Volunteer Programme will recruit, train, guide and support volunteers from major urban centres to carry out practical weekend work supporting the Upland Path Programme
- The Adopt a Path Programme will recruit, train, guide and support volunteers in monitoring the condition of paths across both National Parks in order to avoid problems going undetected.
- The Education Programme will coordinate the creation of opportunities for schools, colleges and universities to become involved in the monitoring, care and management of upland paths in both National Parks.
- The Visitor Information Programme will liaise and coordinate with visitor management services in both National Parks to ensure visitors are made aware of the importance of managing upland paths and the part they can play. This will be done through a combination of events, guided walks, web and social media activity.
Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
“This is a great example of Scotland’s environment agencies coming together to make a real difference to the people and landscape of Scotland. Our National Parks have some of the finest scenery in the world attracting millions of visitors every year and making a significant contribution to the Scottish economy. I’m pleased to see substantial funding being committed to improving our mountain paths, providing job opportunities and training for young people in rural areas.”
Dougie Baird, Chief Executive of the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust, said:
“The Mountains and The People is a project designed to bring the people of Scotland together to help look after some of Scotland’s most precious national assets – the mountains of our National Parks. Mountains in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and the Cairngorms are so important for nature and as places people can escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. The HLF funding means we can now get started and with all partners help protect the Scottish landscape for millions of people to enjoy.”
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund said:
“Scotland’s National Parks encompass some of the country’s most iconic landscapes and are vital for their contribution to tourism as well as for the health and social benefits of the millions of people that enjoy them. Thanks to National Lottery players, we are delighted to be able to support a project which encourages people to take ownership of this rich heritage. Their newly-learned skills will not only make a positive difference to their own lives but will play an important part in looking after the future of Scotland’s magnificent landscapes.”
Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park:
“With 50% of Scotland’s population within an hour’s drive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, our hills and mountains provide the perfect way for people to make the most of the outdoors. This significant investment to improve our mountain paths will provide further opportunities for the people of Scotland to get out and get active. We’re incredibly proud to be part of this landmark project that brings together all National Park aims to truly connect the mountains and the people, with opportunities for many to get directly involved.”
Gregor Hutcheon, Cairngorms National Park Authority and COAT board member: “We are delighted our much loved mountain landscapes are set to benefit from this major investment. Mount Keen, Beinn a Ghlo and Lochnagar – some of our most iconic mountains – are among those where paths will be repaired and upgraded. What is particularly exciting is that the project will also create opportunities for people to train for employment in this type of environmental conservation and to volunteer to help look after these paths by assisting with repairs and monitoring their condition in the future.”
The project will deliver against all four National Park aims:
- To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area;
- To promote sustainable use of the area’s natural resources;
- To promote understanding and enjoyment – including enjoyment in the form of recreation – of the special qualities of the area;
- To promote sustainable economic and social development of the area’s communities
For further information contact Nancy McLardie, PR & Media Manager Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority (Thurs/Fri) on 01389 722016 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Archer, Press Officer, Cairngorms National Park Authority (Tues/Wed/Thurs) on 01479 870534 or at email@example.com
Gordon Donaldson, Forestry Commission Scotland’s District Manager:
“One of the best ways to protect our National Parks is to get more people directly involved in them – this is exactly what this initiative aims to do.
“For many years the Commission has been at the forefront of this type of conservation and preservation work and it is brilliant to be able to widen out this opportunity to more people.”
Pete Rawcliffe, SNH’s People and Places Unit Manager:
“We’re really delighted to be able to support this successful HLF bid. Our two National Parks contain some the nation’s most important mountain environments. This investment in the management of upland paths will help people enjoy these special landscapes in years to come, as well as helping to protect the unique wildlife that lives there.”
Sarah Lawther (former COAT trainee), completed the training course in Aviemore last year:
“I found the COAT training course a really worthwhile experience, it was well managed and great emphasis was placed on finding relevant work after it. I was lucky enough to gain many weeks work experience with Cairngorm Wilderness Contacts, a company who set themselves up off the back of the training course four years previous to me. The values they carry as a company in conservation and environmental good practice really spoke to me as I care passionately about conservation, especially in the Cairngorms as I grew up walking these mountains. I am fiercely proud to be working for this company when this is what I get to show my friends and family. I love my job, I love this place and I feel so incredibly lucky to be part of the conservation of this beautiful mountain environment.”