Campaigners are preparing for their final push for Galloway to be declared Scotland’s newest National Park – revealing that they have already spoken with well over 2,000 local people and organisations.
And the Galloway National Park Association (GNPA) is urging more people to come forward and take part in drop-in sessions in January.
Their aim is for as many people and organisations as possible to give their views before the Scottish Government nominations deadline in February.
The Scottish Government will carry out a detailed evaluation of the bids in the spring with the Minister expected to announce which are proposed for designation in the summer.
Rob Lucas, GNPA chair, said: “Over the last six years we have spoken to large numbers of people across the Park area to gather their views. We have been greatly encouraged by the feedback and we continue to work to ensure that the bid captures the benefits but also addresses the concerns raised.
“We are really hoping that even more will seize the opportunity to make their voices heard in January.
“As climate change, population decline and rural poverty accelerate there is a growing recognition that it is not possible for Galloway to remain as it is. A National Park won’t fix all these problems overnight but it puts nature and the environment at the heart of a sustainable future for Galloway’s communities. and a Galloway National Park would empower nature and the environment to drive prosperity.
“It would be an absolute game changer for a region that stubbornly remains at the bottom of the Scottish wages table – the only rural area in the bottom 10, while six other rural areas are in the top 10.
“We have strong backing from the public, business, politicians, political parties and local authorities. It’s an idea that attracts the enthusiasm of people of all backgrounds and generations.
“2024 is crunch time and we hope that NatureScot will advise the Scottish Government to grant National Park status to Galloway, so that Galloway can achieve its potential in providing a world-class new natural resource for Scotland.”
Rob believes the need for initiatives like the Galloway National Park have become increasingly urgent.
Since GNPA was founded in 2017 key issue to emerge include:
- That climate change is affecting all our lives and the impact is rapidly increasing
- Land users have to adapt – not least due to climate change – with new approaches to help land recover from certain practices, to protect and enhance biodiversity
- Fresh economic approaches are needed now to promote sustainable development
- That the population and economy of Galloway are in continued decline and regeneration is critical.
National Park status for Galloway would provide the opportunity to balance the needs of nature, the environment, communities and business.
Rob said: “Galloway has a multitude of landscapes – much of it ‘lived-in’ some of it wild – and it’s important for its role as a national producer of timber, dairy and livestock to be valued and developed in a way that’s sustainable.
“Our proposals can achieve these objectives, which will not just benefit Galloway but can become a beacon of good practice in this country and internationally. The possibilities are hugely exciting and we just hope we are given the opportunity to make them a reality.”
- Drop-in sessions are planned in Stranraer, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright and Dalmellington. Follow GNPA on social media or email [email protected] for details.
The case for Galloway
There is strong public and business backing for it to be in Galloway as it will bring lasting and widespread benefits by:
- Making the most of our fabulous countryside and coastlines
- Generating sustainable tourism
- Creating business opportunities and jobs
- Providing a marketing brand that will put us on a world stage
- Attracting millions of pounds a year in investment and income
- Making space for nature to recover and flourish as a key part of the area’s response to climate change
- Improving health and wellbeing
- Offering opportunities for leisure and outdoor activities
- Encouraging young people and families to remain or return to the region.
GNPA also believes that Galloway is the best place for Scotland’s next National Park because:
- It has a unique mix of rolling farmland, low hills, wild moors, mountains and coastline – adding real diversity to Scotland’s family of National Parks.
- Unlike some parts of Scotland there is ample opportunity, and need, for an increase in sustainable tourism.
- It offers easy access to wonderful countryside for all ages and abilities, including economically deprived communities across south-west Scotland.
- Extensive public and business support for a Galloway National Park shows that the region is ready and eager to seize the opportunities it would bring.