New National Parks - appraisal framework

Closes 4 Aug 2023

Opened 11 May 2023


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.

Give us your views


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