Galloway farms could be among the major beneficiaries if a National Park is created in the region.
The issue is already high on the political agenda with the Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats all supporting the idea of more National Parks in their Scottish Parliamentary election manifestoes.
There is also active backing from SNP MSPs.
Farmers in different parts of the region have also been showing their support.
Among them is Robert McTurk (pictured by Colin Hattersley), 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 Labour Party, which currently runs 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”.
Note to Editors
- Anyone who supports GNPA aims can also join the association itself for an annual fee of just £5 see www.gallowaynationalpark.org/joinus
About the National Park proposal
A National Park for Galloway would promote and conserve some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes. It would attract visitors and allow a fragile rural economy to rebuild and thrive whilst helping Scotland tackle its biodiversity and climate change challenges.
Creating the park would go a long way to meeting the country’s commitment to protect at least 30% of its land for nature by 2030. The suggested boundaries would extend from Dumfries & Galloway into South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire. This area not only meets the criteria set out in the National Parks (Scotland) Act, but our research shows there is widespread enthusiasm for the idea.
Galloway National Park Association has had conversations with almost 2,000 people at over 100 meetings and events across the area. The resounding feedback is that Galloway wants a National Park.
- Our questionnaire showed that 84% of respondents are in favour of a National Park.
- We have the support of all the local councils (Dumfries & Galloway, South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire)
- The need for a National Park has increased since we started work – Galloway continues to fall further behind the rest of Scotland in economic terms.
- Galloway’s dispersed rural population presents additional challenges but the long-term security of being a National Park is seen by many communities and businesses as a catalyst for their development.
- COVID and Brexit are having a huge impact on the area: National Park status will help to redress this.
- The brief 2020 holiday season showed a clear need for more resources to help manage tourists and ensure a high-quality experience for visitors and locals alike.
- The national and international recognition that a National Park would bring to people to Galloway would help drive a green recovery across many sectors and attract people to live and work in the area.
About the Galloway National Park Association
Galloway National Park Association is a community-based group with trustees from across the region. We started work in 2017 and have over 750 members. Our objects are:
- To promote the protection, conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural assets of the area for public benefit.
- To promote, undertake and publish research into issues affecting conservation and enjoyment of the natural and cultural heritage of the area and to identify how this may be furthered through the designation of a National Park.
- To advance public education in and understanding of how a National Park could contribute to improving health and wellbeing through the enjoyment, understanding or enhancement of the area’s natural and cultural asset”.
Rob Lucas is the association’s Chair and Sandra McDowall the Vice Chair. Dame Barbara Kelly is the President. The association has been funded by membership and donations, and contributions from Scottish Campaign for National Parks, Dumfries & Galloway Council, South Ayrshire Council and East Ayrshire Council.
Contact: Rob Lucas 07808 775901 or Matthew Shelley on 07786 704299 or at Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.org
Galloway National Park Association is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with OSCR (SC047398) on 9th May 2017