The case for Galloway to become Scotland’s third national park was given a boost in the Scottish Parliament last week when a move from South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth calling on the Government to designate new national parks was unanimously backed by MSPs.
The amendment from Labour to a Scottish Government motion celebrating 100 years of the forestry industry called on the Government to “recognise the contribution that national parks make to protecting forestry and widening the natural environment, and therefore believes that new national parks should be designated.”
At present Scotland currently has two national parks – in the Cairngorms and at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
A campaign is currently being run by the Galloway National Park Association to convince the Government to designate national park status to parts of Galloway and South Ayrshire including the current Galloway Forest Park.
Any new national park project would require Scottish Government approval. Colin Smyth believes the Parliamentary vote adds weight to the campaign and is urging the Government to listen to Parliament and local campaigners.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “The momentum behind the campaign for a Galloway national park is growing all the time. I hope the fact the Government did not vote against my motion in Parliament shows that their position is changing and they are being convinced to come on board with the idea of new national parks in Scotland including here in Galloway. The Government now needs to listen to Parliament and the public and work with the community to develop a plan for a Galloway National Park”.
“There is no one size fits all when it comes to how a National Park would work so we can tailor the plans to suit our area and overcome any concerns some people may have. If are serious about tackling the economic challenges facing our region, then one way to contribute to that is deliver a Galloway national park.”
Speaking during the debate Colin Smyth highlghted the benefits of national park status. He told Parliament
“Our national parks have been important contributors to delivering the economic, social and environmental benefits of our land. Nineteen years ago, the Parliament passed the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000, which paved the way for the Labour-led Scottish Executive to create the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national park in 2002 and the Cairngorms national park in 2003.”
“A report by the Scottish Campaign for National Parks has identified seven possible new national parks in Scotland, including a Galloway national park centred around the Galloway forest park, which would allow us to build on the outstanding natural assets of the region”.
“National parks have helped to deliver a major economic boost to their areas, supporting local businesses, generating jobs for young people, providing affordable homes, promoting investment in sustainable rural development and growing the tourism sector. They have also delivered an environmental boost, restoring paths and peatlands, assisting with species recovery and, crucially, restoring and conserving native woodlands”.