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BBC Scotland's Asad Ahmad reports
"The areas will be protected from any unwelcome change"
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Environment Correspondent Louise Batchelor reports
"Conservationists fear too much emphasis may be given to commercial opportunities"
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Friday, 21 January, 2000, 20:44 GMT
Scottish national parks near reality

The Trossachs The Trossachs will be protected by new legislation

Scottish national parks have moved a step closer to reality with the launch of proposed legislation by Environment Minister Sarah Boyack.

The Loch Lomond and Trossachs region will become the country's first park next summer, according to the terms of a draft bill.

Launching a six-week consultation period at the Trossachs Discovery Centre in Aberfoyle, Ms Boyack said it was important for Scotland to catch up with the rest of the UK in having special areas of countryside and heritage fully recognised.

Scotland's national and cultural heritage is one of the country's most precious assets - it makes Scotland special
Sarah Boyack
"Scotland has come late to the concept of national parks, but this has given us the benefit of learning from others - both from the success stories and from the mistakes," she said.

"We are now in the enviable position of being able to develop our own way forward which reflects both local and national needs, learning from the experience of countries throughout the world."

Funding for the national parks will come from the Scottish Executive and it is hoped such status will:

  • Ensure the conservation of natural and cultural heritage

  • Enhance the public's enjoyment of these areas

  • Encourage the sustainable use of resources

  • Assist the social and economic development of communities.

Where conflicts exist between commercialisation and preservation, the latter will hold sway so that the beauty of an area is handed down to future generations, the minister said.

Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack: Scotland is "special"
National park authorities will submit strategy proposals to develop the parks "sustainably".

Ms Boyack said: "Scotland's national and cultural heritage is one of the country's most precious assets - it makes Scotland special.

"It is also the source of considerable economic prosperity for Scotland through activities such as tourism and the production and marketing of local food.

"It is essential we maintain and enhance our natural and cultural heritage for all to enjoy and benefit from. This means striking the right balance between conservation and social and economic development."

'Benefit Scottish people'

She added: "I look forward to Scotland's national parks becoming living, working examples of the true integration of the rural economy with the conservation of natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of all Scotland's people."

Scottish mountainside Scotland's scenery attracts many visitors
Under the planned legislation, a national park in the Cairngorms area is expected to be created in 2002.

Ian Grant, chairman of the Cairngorms Partnership, which will help shape residents' views on proposals to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament, said he was keen to start work on bringing the region up to national park status.

James Fraser, chair of the Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling and the Trossachs Tourist Board, also welcomed the creation of the two national parks.

He said it was ironic that a Scot, John Muir, exported the concept of national parks to Banff in Canada 150 years ago, but never lived to see a national park being created in his homeland
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See also:
26 Apr 99 |  News
Scotland 'defined' by land ownership
08 Jul 99 |  Sci/Tech
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