NATIONAL PARKS: Visitors are being treated as a problem, instead of the Parks’ most important customers

Loch Lomond National Park where the facilities don’t meet the demand for them.

By Nick Kempe

Our two National Parks, the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, were created for the people of Scotland.

Parkswatch Scotland has been set up to help ensure that Scotland’s two national parks deliver the aspirations which led to their creation.

Unfortunately, all is not well in our National Parks. Visitors are being treated as a problem, instead of the Parks’ most important customers. Great swathes of land continues to be degraded by unsustainable land management practices with all the implications that has for wildlife. People who want to live in the Parks face multiple challenges, including access to housing and well-paid jobs.

We live in a world where the powerful, and the bureaucracies that serve them, are increasingly unaccountable and serve their own interests. National Parks are no exception to this and increasingly operate like the worst Local Authorities with small cabals taking decisions in secret.

If our National Parks are to live up to their ideals, to enhance the land, enable people to enjoy it and promote sustainable development they need to be democratically accountable. This will only happen if there is pressure from below, from those who at present may be consulted but then ignored, and new mechanisms are created to enable debate and resolve conflicts where they exist.

Loch Lomond, where visitors flock to see the natural beauty of the landscape. Picture by Bill Heaney

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