The Cairngorms Crofters and Farmers Community Ltd (CCFC) has formally launched in the Highlands, on the back of frustrations with the Cairngorms National Park over their perceived lack of engagement and the introduction of beavers.

Early in the new year, a group of almost fifty crofters and farmers within the Spey catchment came together to improve engagement with the Cairngorms National Park Authority and to focus on working together as a group for the promotion and enhancement of sustainable, local food production and all that comes with it.

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Chaired by Robert MacDonald, a farmer from Grantown-on-Spey, the group now has 11 directors, all crofters or farmers, with a membership building across the whole of the national park. The group will have a Cairngorms focus and intends to work closely with existing organisations.

While negotiations are still underway regarding the implications of the released beavers and the impact they may have on farming, the group is already in discussions with regards to improvements in the Upper Spey Beaver Management and Mitigation Plan.

CCFC has also successfully requested the set-up of a beaver management group to include farmer and land manager input. Other early steps have been the rekindling of a farmers’ forum and the setting-up of an agricultural advisory panel by the Park Authority to enable agricultural practitioners, researchers and policy-influencers to feed into park plans.

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Robert MacDonald commented: “The setting up of this group brings a new and powerful voice to the decision-making process in the Cairngorm National Park. It is important for us to find a balance between fulfilling the objectives of the park and those of the rural communities that it serves.

“We share common goals of preserving and developing biodiversity and our cultural heritage in the area, and as caretakers of the land, we need to be closely involved in decisions made affecting the area we live and work in.

“We are already seeing the benefits of the group in the knowledge and information sharing between members, and combined with discussions with the Park Authority will be to the benefit of all in the Cairngorms community.”