9. Criterion 7: Strategic contribution
Assessment of the strategic contribution of a new National Park is considered in Criterion 7. This includes five components that cover a range of environmental, ecological and biodiversity considerations.
Views on the criterion
Q13. Do you agree that ‘strategic contribution’ should be a criterion for assessing nominations for new National Parks? If you disagree, please give reasons for your answer.
|n=||% Agree||% Disagree||% Don’t know|
|All answering (%)||156||91||8||1|
|- Interest organisations / Stakeholders||15||87||13||0|
|- Public sector bodies||10||90||0||10|
|- Built Environment / Land management||2||100||0||0|
A criterion assessing strategic contribution was the joint highest rated of the seven criteria, with 91% of those answering Q13 agreeing this should be included. Agreement was high among both individuals (91%) and organisations (89%), with only three organisations not in agreement - The National Trust for Scotland and Galloway National Park Association disagreed, and Crown Estate Scotland was unsure.
32 respondents commented at Q13. While many agreed with the proposed criterion in the closed question, only a few left comments explaining their support. These respondents noted the importance of using National Parks to show how natural landscapes can be preserved and protected, increase biodiversity and used to help mitigate climate change.
“Hopefully this criterion captures the role of National Parks as exemplars, and how an increased number of National Parks covering different landscape types could demonstrate leadership on how rural Scotland could move to being nature positive and net zero in a fair and planned way.” - Scottish Environment LINK
NFU Scotland also agreed, but noted that the success of integrating different land users into a sustainable vision for agriculture would be dependent on the funding allocated.
Reasons for disagreement
Some respondents explained their opposition to the criterion. A few were critical of how the creation of the two existing National Parks had been managed, as well as their current management. Individuals cited increased development of the areas and negative impacts on local populations, such as decreased wages, as their reasons for disagreeing. A few others disagreed because they thought National Park status would not effectively help environmental issues.
“The scale feels wrong. There's an urgent need to empower (i.e. fund) local communities to properly manage their environments - there's little evidence that National Park status achieves this.” – Individual
Other reasons for disagreeing included a request for further clarification of the criterion, including guidance on existing powers and budgets. The National Trust for Scotland disagreed with the criterion, requesting that it should also consider cultural heritage.
Views on the components
Q14. Do you agree with the components of criterion 7 (strategic importance)? If you disagree, please give reasons for your answer.
|All answering for each component:||n=||% Agree||% Disagree||% Don’t know|
|Component 1: How could National Park designation support the area’s leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation in a way that is fair and inclusive for local communities?||154||87||8||5|
|Component 2: How could National Park designation support the area’s contribution to commitments within the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, including ecosystem restoration, protection and recovery of vulnerable species, wildlife management, nature friendly farming, the expansion of areas that are protected for nature and the development of nature networks?||152||88||6||6|
|Component 3: How could designation as a National Park support sustainable investment in the area’s natural capital?||153||84||10||7|
|Component 4: How could designation as a National Park support the development of green skills and jobs in the area?||153||89||7||4|
|Component 5: How could designation as a National Park complement the contribution that Scotland’s existing National Parks make to tackling the nature and biodiversity crises?||151||91||5||4|
Support for the five components of Criterion 7 varied from 84% for Component 3 to 91% for Component 5. In all cases except Component 4, individuals were slightly more likely than organisations to agree.
There was no consistent pattern among the organisations who disagreed with or were unsure about specific components. For example, Component 3 was the lowest rated of the five components by organisations, with 79% agreeing. However, of six organisations who did not agree, Scottish Rewilding Alliance and Historic Environment Scotland disagreed, while Crown Estate Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Paths for All and Perth & Kinross Council were unsure.
Component 1: How could National Park designation support the area’s leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation in a way that is fair and inclusive for local communities?
Some respondents commented specifically on Component 1. A few felt the aims of the component needed to be clarified. One individual stated that while it was a laudable aim, it was not particularly relevant to National Parks and should not be in the assessment.
Other concerns each mentioned by one respondent included:
- Questions about procedures for areas containing existing wind farms (see Q16).
- An acknowledgement of the benefits of community land ownership and further information on redressing imbalances and ambiguity of land ownership in Scotland.
- A request that the component consider businesses as well as individuals.
- A desire for applications to emphasise how new National Parks will bring additional benefits to what landowners, farmers and crofters are already trying to achieve in terms of climate change mitigation.
Component 2: How could National Park designation support the area’s contribution to commitments within the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, including ecosystem restoration, protection and recovery of vulnerable species, wildlife management, nature friendly farming, the expansion of areas that are protected for nature and the development of nature networks?
Some respondents critiqued Component 2 as attempting to address something that should be of greater national importance. One individual respondent suggested that the biodiversity crisis cannot be fixed through new National Parks, and another highlighted that rewilding and biodiversity restoration should be part of a national wildlife campaign.
Perth & Kinross Council stated that Components 2, 3 and 4 in Criterion 7 overlapped with the components of Criterion 3, or ‘meeting the special needs of the area’.
Component 3: How could designation as a National Park support sustainable investment in the area’s natural capital?
Of the respondents who provided further comment on Component 3, most disagreed due to concerns over the concepts of natural capital and sustainable development, which these respondents distrusted.
“What is 'sustainable investment'? Many industries make misleading claims. Who assesses sustainability?” - Individual
Scottish Land & Estates supported Component 3 and suggested that land managers be shown the long-term benefits of green finance.
Component 4: How could designation as a National Park support the development of green skills and jobs in the area?
Respondents who provided a comment about Component 4 tended to be split as to whether they agreed or disagreed. Those who agreed supported the increased development in green skills, which one anonymous organisation suggested was a skills gap across the UK. South of Scotland Enterprise supported the component as a way to engage the community and allow for further investment.
“The creation of green skills and jobs in the area can be maximised by engagement with the community to identify benefits which can be found through the designation. Opening the opportunity to engage with the possibilities enables community, social and private enterprises to plan ahead and be in a great position to reap the benefits when they come.” - South of Scotland Enterprise
A few respondents disagreed with the inclusion of Component 4 as they thought the term green skills and jobs had become empty of meaning. Another individual argued that not everything had to be focused on green economies all the time.
A few suggested, as with Components 2 and 3, that this was covered by Criterion 3.
Component 5: How could designation as a National Park complement the contribution that Scotland’s existing National Parks make to tackling the nature and biodiversity crises?
Only one respondent commented on Component 5, stating that it should be considered a part of Component 2.
A few respondents noted concern about prioritising economic benefits from new National Parks. While not all respondents provided further details, Scottish Rewilding Alliance thought that community benefit should be the overall priority.
“National parks are well placed to navigate these investment opportunities - but should do so with communities in mind. There should be community benefits from the millions of pounds in funding flowing through our landscapes beyond the restoration of nature. Where land generates value in the form of ecosystem services, money should also flow back into local communities. In the long term, this creates thriving communities whose lives are interwoven with nature. Rewilding and repeopling should go hand in hand, especially in our national parks.” - Scottish Rewilding Alliance
A desire to prioritise national and international interests over regional interests was raised by two respondents. Conversely, one individual thought a new National Park could have value to only a region.
A few respondents suggested that the goals and aims of a wellbeing economy should be included, such as health and happiness.
Other considerations each mentioned by one respondent included:
- Putting greater emphasis on socio-economic benefits.
- Including components that consider affordable housing.
- Ensuring new National Parks are inclusive for those who may be older and less mobile or those who are less often National Park users.
- Historic Environment Scotland asked for consideration of how “the creation of a new National Park could contribute to the aims of ‘A Culture Strategy for Scotland’ and ‘Our past, our Future’.”
- Scottish Borders Council mentioned that new National Parks should “build on current local/regional activity such as RLUP pilots”.
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