Harper Promotes The Importance Of Protected Outdoor Access In Holyrood

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has teamed up with the Galloway National Park Association in taking a motion forward for debate to the Scottish Parliament to highlight the importance of protected outdoor spaces for positive health and well-being, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation.

The South Scotland MSP, herself a registered nurse and Deputy Convenor of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, has used the opportunity to highlight the fantastic resources which are available across Galloway – such as the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere, 7Stanes and Galloway Forest Park – for people to use outdoor spaces to try new activities. These spaces allow people to get outdoors and gain an understanding of the natural environment which, Ms Harper says, is crucial for positive health and well-being and for the prevention of many health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stress.

In the motion – currently out to cross party MSPs for support – Ms Harper has also highlighted how the areas natural environment could be further protected and enhanced through the possibility of a National Park for Galloway which could have the potential to promote an attractive and healthy natural and cultural environment that will benefit the communities of Galloway both socially and economically, and offer broader benefits to others, including visitors, and provide a vibrant and sustainable future in which the region’s young people can flourish. The motion therefore calls on the Scottish Government to set out, in principle, its position on a National Park for the area.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

 “The importance of our physical and mental health, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic, is crucial. We know from numerous studies and research that one of the best ways to maintain positive health and well-being is through accessing the natural environment and through engaging in and trying new activities. Galloway is very well placed to do this and there is already fantastic resources such as the UNESCO Biosphere, 7Stanes and Galloway Forest Park. I thank all teams who are involved with these fantastic sites.
 “There is, as always, the possibility to further expand the potential of our area and to use it smartly to mitigate climate change, to conserve nature and to allow people access to protected space which promotes positive health and well-being. To this end, I have been working with the Galloway National Park Association and this motion asks the Scottish Government to set out, in principle, its position on a National Park for Galloway with the potential benefits it could bring. There is an wider ask ahead of Cop26, the Climate Change Conference which is to be held in Glasgow this year, that 30% of Scottish land needs to be designated as Protected Natural Space by 2030. So 30 by 30 could be achieved by increasing number of National Parks in Scotland.
 “I look forward to receiving support from MSPs across the Parliament for this motion and to holding the debate in Parliament.”



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