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National Park

National Parks provide positive management and extra resources to safeguard and enhance the special qualities of these areas for the long term.

National Parks also provide opportunities for the public to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage that these areas boast.

Scotland has two National Parks:

Scottish Natural Heritage played a key role in establishing Scotland’s National Parks, and we continue to work closely with both National Park authorities.

Our priorities for working with the National Parks are to:

  • support their successful operation
  • promote the care, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the nature and landscapes within them

Each National Park contains many nationally and internationally important sites for nature and landscapes. Find out more on SiteLink.

Selection and designation

The National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 allowed for the creation of National Parks in Scotland for the first time.

The Act states that the aims of National Parks are to:

  • conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area
  • promote sustainable use of the natural resources of the area
  • promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public
  • promote sustainable economic and social development of the areas' communities

Where these aims conflict, the relevant National Park authority must prioritise the first of these aims.

The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Designation, Transitional and Consequential Provisions (Scotland) Order 2002 set out different arrangements for this National Park authority.

No further National Parks are proposed for Scotland. But SNH has advised the Scottish Government on developing proposals for coastal and marine National Parks.

Read SNH Advice on Coastal and Marine National Parks

Protection and management

Each National Park has its own National Park authority responsible for writing a national park partnership plan and ensuring its implementation. National Park authorities are funded by the Scottish Government and report to Scottish Ministers.

Each National Park also has a board, made up of:

  • ministerial appointments
  • local authority ward members
  • local residents elected by the community

Boards are limited in size by legislation to:

  • 17 members for the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
  • 19 members for the Cairngorms National Park