A wildlife charity is aiming to create a third national park in Scotland in a bid to protect landscape and wildlife.
Under plans from the Galloway National Park Association, Galloway Forest Park could be brought under the same national park banner Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.
According to the charity, the “superb coasts, southern Scotland’s largest tract of wild uplands, farmland and abundance of wildlife make it “easy” to see why there is potential for a National Park in the area.
In a mission statement, the association said: “There is a growing case to show that the development of more national parks could play a crucial role in the future of our rural areas, and we believe that Galloway is a perfect candidate for designation. We all know that Galloway is a very special place. Southwest Scotland has a unique story and a distinctive character, distilled by centuries of migration, trade and conflict. There are many reasons why we should consider Galloway as a national park.”
Scotland has two national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and the Cairngorms, but the Galloway bid is not the only national park option in Scotland. A parallel bid has also been launched in the Borders.
Former MSP Sir Alex Fergusson, a long-term supporter of national parks and president of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, said: “Scotland gave the concept of National Parks to the world, yet, with only two parks designated in the past 18 years since the National Parks Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, we lag behind both England and Wales in terms of the extent of our parks.
“With three national parks just over the border and none in the south of Scotland I believe it is time that this area is given the recognition it deserves.”
Any national park would require Scottish Government approval. It has previously said significant costs would be incurred and at a time of pressure on public finances it would not be right to raise expectations.