The promise of a more sustainable future for a sector that has all too often suffered from uncertainty and decline
Galloway farms could be among the major beneficiaries if a National Park is created in the region.
Farmers in different parts of the region have also been showing their support.
Among them is Robert McTurk, who has a farm above Loch Ken near St John’s Town of Dalry. He said: “As a hill farmer I would welcome a National Park. I think hill sheep and cattle farmed in a sustainable way, on the hillsides where they have grazed for centuries, would be valued by visitors and anyone involved in the park’s governance.
“The value of grazing hill ground in terms of carbon capture has not yet been fully recognised and would compete with the planting of trees.
“I hope that a National Park in Galloway would create a balance – and point the way forward.”
Christopher Nicholson, who farms near from Whithorn, recently wrote to MSPs to say: “There are many farmers in the south west who are supportive of proposals for a Galloway National Park, some of whom are involved with community initiative groups which believe that a National Park can only benefit this area.
“Farmers throughout the area are increasingly looking to diversify incomes to secure their long-term future, and the majority of these farm diversifications rely on increasing tourism and visitor numbers; a National Park is a well-recognised brand which would clearly help to sell Galloway as a destination.”
The Galloway National Park Association (GPNA), which is spearheading the campaign, says it would:
- Provide new jobs and sustainable opportunities for business and agriculture
- Give Galloway an internationally recognised brand
- Bring more visitors and spending
- Attract people to live and work Galloway
- Create brilliant marketing opportunities for local business
- Conserve, protect and promote some of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes and coastlines.
- Encourage community development
- Provide abundant leisure and recreational opportunities.
Rob Lucas, Chair of the GNPA, said: “Farms and farmers have helped shape the beautiful landscapes of Galloway for millennia. They are a vital part of our community and essential to our future.
“A National Park could bring a multitude of benefits – not least the branding and marketing opportunities that will be opened up by raising awareness of the amazing produce that comes from this area.
“We are delighted that growing numbers of farmers see a National Park as a positive way to build a sustainable economy for a region where the agricultural sector has too often been faced with uncertainty and decline.”
Scotland currently lags behind much of the rest of the world, and other parts of the UK, in creating National Parks.
- In Wales the devolved government has made an election manifesto commitment to a new National Park covering the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.
- The Westminster Government has pledged £80 million for National Parks and protected landscapes as part of a “green recovery plan”.