Views sought on the role of National Parks and the selection criteria for a new park

View across Loch Lomond
Alan Robertson

Naturescot are consulting about a future National Park for Scotland as part of the the Scottish Government's commit to designation of at least one new National Park during the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament. 

It is almost 20 years since Scotland’s first two National Parks were created:

Both serve as models of sustainable development and are central to rural economic development and recreation, sustainability, and conservation efforts and were established as executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) under the provisions of the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000.

The Scottish Government provide annual funding to the Park Authorities in the form of Grant in Aid, with which to deliver the 2000 Act’s statutory aims as well as other functions and duties conferred on them by the Act.  

The 2000 Act sets out four National Park aims: 

  • to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage
  • to promote the sustainable use of the natural resources of the area
  • to promote understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the area by the public
  • to promote sustainable social and economic development of the communities of the area

The Park Authorities’ role is to co-ordinate the delivery of these four statutory National Park aims, and in this way ensure a sustainable future for these areas.  

NatureScot has been asked by the Scottish Government to work with them in establishing at least one new National Park by 2026.  Before more are designated, Scottish Ministers wish to review the role of our National Parks, especially their role in addressing the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

To support this work a National Park stakeholder advisory group was established and a consultation on the role and approach to National Parks, and how nominations for new National Parks could be evaluated, was launched (closing date 30 November 2022). 

These strands of work will help Naturescot to develop and finalise their advice for January 2023. This advice will also facilitate the future stages of the engagement and consultation process.

At least one new National Park in Scotland will be designated by Spring 2026 - the indicative timeline for these key stages is set out below.



Timescale (indicative)

Public Consultation – (The Future of National parks in Scotland)

Late Spring 2022 – completed

Public Consultation –  Approach and Criteria of National Parks in Scotland

Autumn 2022 – Winter 2022/3 – in progress

Development of Evaluation Framework and any legislative changes required (including public consultation)

Winter 2022 – Summer 2023

Nominations and Assessment of proposals for New National Park(s)

Summer 2023 – Winter 2023/4

Reporter Investigation

(including public consultation on proposals for new National Park(s) and advice to Minister)

Spring 2024  - Winter 2024/5

Designation Order(s)

(including public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and order coming into effect to designate the new National Park(s))

Winter 2024/5 – Spring 2026