New National Parks - appraisal framework

Closed 4 Aug 2023

Opened 11 May 2023

Feedback updated 12 Oct 2023

We asked

The Scottish Government has committed to designate at least one new National Park in Scotland by the end of this Parliamentary session in 2026. A draft appraisal framework with broad selection criteria for new National Parks was published for consultation on 11 May 2023. The consultation closed on 4 August 2023. The purpose of the consultation was to obtain views, comments and feedback on the draft appraisal framework and selection criteria for new National Parks.

You said

We received 165 responses to our consultation questions. Almost all were submitted via the Scottish Government’s online consultation platform, Citizen Space. We received responses from 132 individuals and 33 from organisations.

Responses were received from individuals, organisations, public sector bodies, those in the built environment and land management sectors and from the energy sector.

Overall, the key finding from the analysis of responses was that, with some refinement, there was widespread support for the draft appraisal framework.

Quantitative findings

Overall there was a high level of support for the seven criteria in the draft appraisal framework. All criteria were supported by more than 70% of respondents, with three criteria (meeting the special needs of the area, strategic contribution and visitor management and experience) supported by more than 90%.  Each of the 22 components of the criteria was supported by between 72% and 94% of respondents.

Qualitative findings

Noting the overall broad support for the criteria and their components, open comments highlighted a range of views and perspectives.  In several cases, respondents requested more detailed definitions of the criteria or component wording, or for more detail to be provided. There were calls from some respondents for both broader and narrower criteria, and for some, there was an appeal to prioritise certain criteria over others. 

Criterion 5 (added value) recorded the lowest level of agreement of the seven criteria.  Many who disagreed with this criterion highlighted their dislike of the term ‘added value’, often due to their interpretation of this as monetary value or financial gain. Many respondents, whether they agreed or disagreed or were unsure about the criterion, suggested that a clearer definition was necessary.  Several respondents asked for clarity about whether the criterion was intended to be financial or whether value could also speak to environmental, social or cultural heritage outcomes. 

A full analysis of the consultation has been published on the Scottish Government website.

Submitted responses have been published where permission has been given.

We did

The Scottish Government would like to thank everyone who took the time to provide a response to this consultation.  We have taken account of the responses received and the consultation analysis report. 

The responses to this consultation have informed the final version of the appraisal framework for new National Parks which has now been published.   

In particular, we have taken action by refining the appraisal framework in the following ways:

  • We have retained all of the appraisal criteria except for ‘added value’;
  • We have provided guidance for groups wishing to submit a nomination for a new National Park on each of the criteria and we have provided examples of evidence and indicators that groups may wish to include; and
  • We have provided detailed scoring guidance for each criterion.

The appraisal framework will be used to help assess nominations and to inform the decision of Scottish Ministers on the candidate area(s) to be designated as Scotland’s next National Park.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


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.

The draft 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

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.

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.

Read the Consultation paper 

Read the Appraisal Framework

Ministerial Foreword

The Scottish Government has committed to designating at least one new National Park in Scotland by the end of this Parliamentary session in 2026. As Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, I am delighted to be consulting with you on how nominations for new National Parks should be appraised.

It is 20 years since Scotland’s first two National Parks were created. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms are home to some of our most iconic scenery, outstanding nature and magnificent landscapes. They each work hard to preserve, restore and promote our natural and cultural heritage. They promote responsible access to nature and they support the development of sustainable communities whilst attracting millions of visitors annually. It is clear that they have become jewels in Scotland’s crown and now is the time to add to them.

Last year we consulted widely on the future of National Parks in Scotland and I am very grateful to everyone who took part in that process. Thank you for sharing your views, insights and ideas. These consultations have shown that many people want to see new National Parks in Scotland. They have also highlighted the important leadership role of our National Parks in tackling the interlinked crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, whilst also welcoming visitors and supporting local communities and businesses.

This Autumn we will launch the nominations process for new National Parks. I am delighted that several areas have put themselves forward as candidates for National Park status and I hope that we will receive nominations from across Scotland. In order to determine the area or areas to be taken forward for designation, we have developed a draft appraisal framework with proposed criteria for new National Parks in Scotland. 

We want to ensure that the nominations and appraisal process is open, fair and transparent. That is why we are presenting the appraisal framework in draft, so that you have an opportunity to give us your views and feedback before it is finalised. 

I would encourage everyone to participate in this consultation to ensure your views are heard.  Your responses will help us to refine the broad criteria and finalise the appraisal framework, paving the way for this historic expansion of Scotland’s National Parks.

Why your views matter

The Scottish Government wants to ensure that the nominations and appraisal process for new National Parks are 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.

What happens next

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at Citizen Space. If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will be made available.


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