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Scotland's Protected Landscapes

Scotland has only one statutory landscape designation – National Parks. There are two National Parks (7.3% of the land area). The first National Park to be set up in Scotland was Loch Lomond and the Trossachs (in 2002), followed by the Cairngorms in 2003.

National Parks

The four purposes of National Parks in Scotland (in the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000) are to:

  • conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage,
  • promote sustainable use of the natural resources,
  • promote understanding and enjoyment of the area’s special qualities, and
  • promote sustainable social and economic development of the area’s communities

Scottish Park Authorities are required to pursue these aims in a collective and coordinated way, and have a wider range of powers to achieve this. If conflict arises between these aims the legislation gives priority to conservation. Similarly, some of Scotland’s Regional Parks have now developed a social and economic role linked to their recreational function.

The main difference in the constitution of the Scottish Park Authorities from those in England and Wales is that 20% of the membership in Scotland is directly elected.

Scotland is currently looking to designate the UK's first Coastal and Marine National Park, which would provide protection for marine species and habitats. Several candidate areas are currently being considered.

National Scenic Areas

National Scenic Areas in Scotland do not have a basis in primary statute. They are those areas of land considered of national significance on the basis of their outstanding scenic interest which must be conserved as part of the country’s natural heritage. National Scenic Areas are not designated by law and Scottish Natural Heritage has asked the Scottish Executive to review this.


National Parks Scotland Act 2000

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