THE areas in the running to be Scotland’s newest National Park have been announced, with one of the country’s poorest rural regions on the shortlist.

Areas named on the shortlist to becomes the third Scottish national park are: 

  • Scottish Borders
  • Galloway
  • Lochaber
  • Loch Awe
  • Tay Forest

The exact boundaries of any proposed park have not yet been confirmed. 

The chosen area will join the two existing parks, the Cairngorms National Park and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park – which have been recognised for their “incredible landscapes”.

The new park will bring the total number of national parks in the UK to 16.

The Scottish Government has committed to designating at least one new park by 2026, following a consultation once a site is identified, expected to be this summer.

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The Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) and Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere (GSABP) bid was submitted on Thursday, with the area touted as “Scotland in Miniature”.

Despite its natural beauty, economically it is one of the poorest rural regions in Scotland, and the national park status was tipped to “boost prosperity for all”, due to the mix of coastal landscapes and mountains which are a magnet for tourists.

Rob Lucas, GNPA Chair, said: “Galloway is extraordinary, its rolling hills, open moorlands, mountains, rivers, lochs, rugged coasts and seascapes mean it comes as close as any region realistically can to being a Scotland in miniature.

“National park designation would make the most of these assets, protecting and enhancing them for our common future.

“Galloway is one Scotland’s poorest rural regions and national park status would be the perfect way to boost prosperity for all by building a vibrant sustainable economy.”

Each proposal will be appraised by the Scottish Government against the published criteria and further consultation will be held once a preferred site is identified.

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Biodiversity minister Lorna Slater (below) said: “The Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Parks have shown how valuable national park status can be. Both are recognised for their incredible landscapes, their outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

“National park status has boosted their economies, supported local business and engaged communities to make the parks work for those who live and work in them.

“Once we have a site identified, we will engage again with the people in the area to look at determining things like park boundaries and balancing environmental protection with helping the communities and local enterprises thrive.

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“I want to thank everyone who has worked so positively and proactively with their local communities to discuss and explore local priorities and the opportunities that national park status can bring, including those who ultimately chose not to nominate their area.

“I look forward to meeting with those who have led the nominations to hear directly from each community what they would want to see from becoming a national park.”

Kat Jones, director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland (APRS), welcomed the plan to create a new park.

She said: “Scotland has some of the richest and varied natural and cultural landscapes in the world and is, rightly, world famous for them.

“Of the 15 national parks in the UK, Scotland has only two and we are pleased that, 20 years since the first Scottish national park was designated, we will soon have another.

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“National parks in Scotland, in contrast to those in many other parts of the world, are tasked to deliver for people, nature and landscape.

“This recognition of how important people and livelihoods are for our landscapes, means national parks are in a unique position to lead the way on the nature and climate crises while also supporting thriving, sustainable communities.”

John Thomson, chairman of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP), said: “The process of inviting nominations from communities has revealed widespread aspiration and interest in national park status.

“It’s a strong signal that this should be the start of a process for creating a suite of national parks in Scotland, so that communities can build on the fruitful discussions they have had.”