Communities and organisations are being invited to submit their proposals to become Scotland’s next National Park.

A key commitment in the Bute House Agreement is to designate at least one new National Park in Scotland by 2026, to bring positive benefits to the environment and economy – however, the move has been met with some concern about the potential impact of a new National Park on rural communities.

Nominations for a new Park will be driven entirely by local communities and organisations, and all areas of Scotland are eligible to submit proposals.

To meet the criteria, groups must be able to demonstrate, among other factors:

• outstanding national importance due to natural or cultural heritage

• a distinctive character and coherent identity

• how does National Park status meet the specific needs of the area

• evidence of local support for the proposal

Detailed guidance has been published online, and support will be available for any group looking to explore or take forward a proposal. The deadline for submissions is 29 February 2024.

Visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity Lorna Slater commented:

“Scotland’s National Parks are among our greatest assets. They are home to internationally renowned landscapes and nature and provide outstanding opportunities for recreation and local communities. They also play a crucial role in tackling climate change and protecting our precious natural environment for future generations.

“Now is the time to add to them. We believe that a new National Park should be founded upon local community demand, which is why we are launching this unique nomination process.”