1.1. The nature and climate emergency
There is increasing global consensus around the urgent need to address the interlinked crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. The natural environment underpins our economy and our society. It affects our jobs, our health, the food we eat and the water we drink. It supports food production and security and provides the blueprint for many modern medicines. Healthy biodiversity prevents soil erosion, purifies water and helps prevent and mitigate flooding. Nature also contributes to our wellbeing, providing recreation, relaxation and a sense of place. Sadly, Scotland has seen a decline in its biodiversity. The State of Nature Report for Scotland shows an average decline in the abundance and the distribution of Scotland's species over recent decades.
1.2. The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy and the role of National Parks
The draft Scottish Biodiversity Strategy sets out Scotland's ambition to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and to restore and regenerate biodiversity across our land, freshwater and seas by 2045. The strategy also sets out the most urgent priority actions which are required to put us on track to become nature positive by 2030. One of these priority actions is the designation of at least one new National Park in Scotland by 2026. The strategy also highlights the important leadership role of our National Parks in halting and reversing biodiversity loss and mitigating climate change.
Scotland's National Parks are more important now than ever before. Working with partners and their local communities, they can be exemplars in their work to protect and restore nature. They can develop and test nature based solutions – such as restoring peatland and expanding woodland – in order to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change in a way that is fair and inclusive to those living and working in their areas. They can help to encourage nature-friendly farming, forestry and marine use. They can support sustainable tourism and visitor management. They can create new employment opportunities and support sustainable growth of the local economy by promoting green skills and jobs. And they can help to generate and channel inward investment in the area's precious natural resources.
1.3. Consultation background
In Spring 2022, the Scottish Government launched a public consultation on the future for National Parks in Scotland. This was the start of a national discussion to find out what people value most about Scotland's National Parks. It sought views and ideas on the role that National Parks can play in helping to restore nature, tackle climate change, promote sustainable land use and support public and community wellbeing.
The Scottish Government subsequently commissioned NatureScot to take forward further public consultations and provide advice on the role and approach of National Parks in Scotland and how new National Parks should be selected. NatureScot's Report was published in February 2023 and, based on the consultation responses that were received, it has informed the development of a draft appraisal framework and selection criteria for new National Parks. A Strategic Environmental Assessment is being carried out and will be published in the summer.
1.4 Consultation overview
What are we asking of you?
The Scottish Government has produced an Appraisal Framework to support the assessment of nominations for new National Park designations. This consultation is seeking your views and comments on this Appraisal Framework and the selection criteria for new National Parks.
We recommend reading the Appraisal Framework before submitting your responses to this consultation. This framework, once finalised, will be used to appraise all nominations that we receive for new National Parks.
How to complete this Consultation
To complete this Consultation, please use the following link.
The Consultation documents are also available to download at the supporting documents section of this page.
Why your views are important
The Scottish Government wants to ensure that the nominations and appraisal process for new National Parks open, fair and transparent. That is why your views matter – we want to ensure that you have an opportunity to comment on the draft framework and the selection criteria before they are finalised.
How long will the consultation be open for?
The consultation is open from 11 May 2023 and will close on 4 August 2023. The Scottish Government intend to produce an analysis of responses during the Autumn of 2023.
What will the consultation cover?
The main aspects of this consultation are:
- Appraisal framework
- Proposed criteria for new National Parks
- Nomination form
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