Communities across Scotland who believe their local area could be the country’s third national park have been urged to register interest to the Scottish Government.
Official nominations for the site are set to open later this year.
It comes after the Government committed to creating a new national park by Spring 2026 as part of the power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party.
Campaigns to highlight areas of natural beauty have been ongoing for years with areas from Galloway in the south to the Hebridean islands being suggested for national park status.
The Government said several communities had already expressed desire to submit their areas.
Scotland currently has two national parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms – which were established in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Scotland’s Campaign for National Parks (SCNP), a national charity, has been campaigning for greater recognition for the country’s rural areas as well as conservation of the existing national parks.
The charity, along with the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, has outlined seven locations around the country where national park status could be recognised.
Locations include the Cheviots and Border Hills, Galloway, Glen Affric, Wester Ross, Harris and a park centred on Mull, Coll and Tiree.
The Galloway National Park Association has registered its interest in Galloway becoming Scotland’s next National Park.
The group’s chair Rob Lucas said: “This is a goal we have been working towards for five years. Galloway’s amazing mix of moors, mountains, rolling farmlands and rugged coastlines makes it the ideal choice.”
It’s unknown at this stage if any of the other locations have been submitted to the Scottish Government for consideration.
Biodiversity minister Lorna Slater said the new park will contribute to Scotland’s 2045 net-zero targets.
She said: “I look forward to engaging with communities and learning more about their proposals, and I encourage everyone to get involved as we move closer to naming Scotland’s next national park.
“Our existing national parks play an important role in tackling the biodiversity and climate crises whilst also supporting local communities, businesses and visitors.
“Last year, we consulted widely on the future of national parks in Scotland, and there was broad support for our commitment to create at least one new park by 2026.”
Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “National parks have a vital role to play in securing a more sustainable future for Scotland.
“They are unique places where we can maximise the benefits that can be provided for nature, climate and people.
“Scotland has set ambitious targets to reach net-zero and to restore biodiversity by 2045.
“If we are to reach those targets, urgent, bold action is required and Scotland’s existing – and any new – national parks can make a substantial contribution.
“Through scaling up our efforts to lock-in carbon in the landscape, restore nature at scale and enable a greener low-emission economy, we can, together, help Scotland make significant progress towards these commitments.”
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