Looking back on 2019/20 and the work of the Cairngorms National Park Authority from the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic does seem like viewing a far off time. However, that shouldn’t get away from the tremendous work that was done last year to deliver across conservation, visitor experience and rural development. The climate emergency and biodiversity crisis are just as important as they were and the CNPA has been tackling these issues across the Park. We have been working closely with our communities and partners to support the Cairngorms National Park economy and that will be even more important in the months ahead.

Looking forward the partnership working over the past few months has been huge across the Park and it has been a bright spot in a difficult time for all. The #CairngormsTogether approach and the way that we are working collaboratively across the public, private and third sectors is so positive for the future. We have developed a Green Recovery Plan and are launching our Green Recovery Fund to help our communities and businesses. The context is different but the same challenges remain of ensuring a National Park that has good jobs, affordable housing, tackles the climate crisis, is nature rich and provides opportunities for all Scots to enjoy the remarkable scenery whilst recharging their batteries.

It is a set of challenges that the CNPA is determined to rise to.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive, Cairngorms National Park Authority (July 2020)

The Cairngorms National Park is a stunning and unique landscape, with over 18,000 residents and visited by over 2 million people every year.

Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA)

It's the duty of the CNPA, along with other partners, public bodies and businesses, to look after and enhance this special place for the people of Scotland.

We aim to provide leadership for the Cairngorms National Park and to tackle the big issues in the Park in a collaborative way

Our vision, mission and values are important statements of what we want to achieve and how we'll do this.


An outstanding National Park, enjoyed and valued by everyone, where people and nature thrive together.


To lead the way in delivering for the Cairngorms National Park by bringing people together toward a common purpose, enhancing the Park for everyone, inspiring new generations to be Park champions.


The CNPA is an open, inclusive, innovative and professional organisation, that behaves with integrity. The CNPA will also operate in an environmentally friendly way that provides leadership in this area.


... to be the best small public body in Scotland.

Our Aims

The National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 sets out four aims.

  • To conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area
  • To promote the sustainable use of the natural resources of the area
  • To promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public
  • To promote sustainable social and economic development of the communities of the area

Our Role

  • Bringing partners together to deliver conservation at a landscape scale
  • Ensuring the quality of visitor experience matches the quality of environment by coordinating investment in the core infrastructure
  • Ensuring people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are able to experience and enjoy the National Park
  • Promoting investment in a diversified economy
  • Helping communities plan and achieve their own visions
  • Delivering a Planning Service to guide the right development to the right place
  • Delivering effective, efficient and sustainable services
  • Promoting the highest standards of governance to support delivery of the Corporate Plan and the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan
  • Raise the profile of the Park
  • Create connection and commitment to care for the Park

Our Corporate Plan for 2018-2022 sets out how we allocate resources and explains how we help to deliver, with partners, the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan and the Scottish Government's Strategic Objectives.

Our Priorities

Delivering for Scotland

We are committed to delivering against six of the eleven national outcomes for Scotland, and we measure our success against 15 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

... at the end of year two of our four year Corporate Plan, 14 of our 15 KPIs are on track or complete towards delivering our ambitions.

Only one of our KPIs is considered to be at significant risk of not being delivered by 2022, and we will take additional actions where needed to resolve this.

Improving efficiency and delivering best value

We continue to deliver Best Value through our actions and service provision, and to improve efficiency, effectiveness and economy in delivering our functions.

Climate change mitigation is a priority and we remain well ahead of our targeted emissions from business activities. You can read more about our green commitments in Our Year in Focus below.

Wherever possible, we share services and offer support - including human resources and organisational support - to a number of our partners. In the last year we've worked closely with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Land Commission, the Cairngorms Trust and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

We were delighted to win the Architects Journal Architecture Award 2019 for Best Workplace up to 10,000m2 for the extension to our offices in Grantown-on-Spey, with the judges recognising the sustainable credentials, budget control and financial management of the building.

(This building) ... achieves remarkable things on a limited budget. It's well connected with the local environment ... and shows that you can make brilliant sustainable architecture that engages with the local community on a budget.

Our Year in Focus

The biggest challenge for all of us is the continuing climate emergency. Looking at ways of reducing carbon emissions and repairing the damage already done to the environment and biodiversity is top of the CNPA's agenda. From our corporate responsibilities to ensuring there's a plethora of nature based solutions built into the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan, we are uniquely placed to contribute to the Scottish Government's 2045 net zero target.

Xander McDade, Convener, CNPA board

Our green commitments

We take our corporate responsibilities very seriously and have been monitoring our carbon footprint since 2007/08. We've managed to reduce this from 150 tCO2 to 97.5 in the last year. We've made a number of changes to internal policies including:

  • a reduction in vehicle use
  • investing in hybrid and electric cars - moving away from diesel
  • reduce all travel and focus on using public transport
  • reducing electricity usage and paper use
  • installing a biomass boiler
  • buying eco-friendly cleaning products
  • improving recycling facilities in the office.

CNPA staff have also made their own 'green' resolutions!

Net Zero with Nature conference - March 2020

Scotland has one of the the most ambitious approaches to climate change in the world, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority has started to set out an ambitious vision and programme of action to tackle the climate emergency challenges.

In March 2020, we invited 180 delegates, including key speakers to the Net Zero with Nature conference.

The aim of this pioneering and timely event was to bring community and business leaders, landowners, partners and decision makers together to discuss the crisis and look at ways in which the Cairngorms National Park can play a leading role in tackling the issues. The focus was on nature-based solutions, with the ambition of achieving a low carbon future that supports a nature-rich Park, benefitting resilient local communities.

In lieu of an attendance fee, participants were encouraged to make a donation to the Cairngorms Trust to support environmental and conservation work.

A number of key speakers and experts challenged and inspired the delegates.

... the Cairngorms National Park is ideally placed to showcase the transition to a net zero economy and society in Scotland ... significant action is already happening on peatland restoration, woodland expansion, active travel, community projects and much more. But this is just the start. This conference is about establishing the net zero route map to 2045, within the Cairngorms National Park.

Robert Cain and Liam McAllan - two members of the recently launched Cairngorms Youth Action Team, which you can read more about below - set the scene for the day by sharing their personal experiences as young people living in the Park, and why addressing the climate crisis matters most to their generation.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, gave a hard hitting presentation of the current situation. In The Big Picture and the Challenge he outlined the evidence supporting the recommendations being made by the CCC and the climate choice Scotland faces towards achieving net zero by 2045.

... it's a bold ambition and one that requires real leadership. The Cairngorms National Park is uniquely positioned to lead the changes ... and to demonstrate how we can enjoy nature while meeting our climate obligations.

From the James Hutton Institute, Professor Alison Hester addressed the issue of woodland expansion and and Dr Mike Rivington presented the findings of the his recent Snow Cover and Climate Change report which outlines the future of snow in the Park over the next 60 years.

Alongside explaining the role of the Park Authority, Dr Pete Mayhew, the CNPA's Director of Conservation & Visitor Experience, inspired delegates to think about how we can tackle the climate emergency together.

Delegates had the opportunity to quiz the speakers in a lively Q&A session before breaking into groups to discuss in more detail the challenges and opportunities for a number of key issues - including active travel, biodiversity and community development. Everyone was keen to think out of the box and share experiences and ideas, and consider bold and ambitious solutions which should be included in the next Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan.

There was a real buzz in the room, especially when the afternoon workshops got underway ... the ideas and knowledge shared was inspiring and I'm very excited to see how some of the ideas can be developed and implemented going forward.

Geva Blackett, Vice Convener, CNPA board

... it has been inspiring to see so many different partners in the Cairngorms National Park working together to look at how we tackle the climate emergency in the Park. The CNPA will take the ideas and conversations and work with everyone to provide a clear direction for the coming months and years. And the next National Park Partnership Plan will be key to setting out the approach to the Cairngorms helping Scotland achieve net zero by 2045.

Grant Moir, Chief Executive, Cairngorms National Park Authority

Grant Moir and Xander McDade with Roseanna Cunningham and Chris Stark

Landscape Scale Collaboration

Nature does not recognise land boundaries, which is why landscape scale collaboration between various land managers is so vital.

Will Boyd Wallis, Head of Land Management, CNPA

The climate emergency is the single biggest threat to the Park, with the potential to result in associated biodiversity losses. But with that threat comes an opportunity to work on solutions through landscape scale collaboration.

One such collaboration is the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership (ECMP), where six sporting estates in the east of the Park have been working with the CNPA to deliver the public benefits associated with sustainable moorland management across 30% of the Park.

Started in 2015, this innovative partnership aims to deliver a number of projects, including peatland restoration and woodland expansion - key contributions towards addressing the climate emergency - and conservation of priority species.

For moorland management to be truly sustainable, this work must also maintain the viability of other enterprises on the estates.

Mountain hare monitoring

  • Following training by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, keepers surveyed 10 sites in the first year and 14 sites in 2019
  • In 2019, an average of 11 hares per km were counted
  • Monitoring will continue over the coming years and be used to ensure the management of mountain hares is sustainable
We were not surprised to see a good number of mountain hares on the extensive area we surveyed last year. Our keepers have reported stable populations ... the ECMP region is true mountain hare country and it's clear that the techniques employed to manage land for grouse shooting also benefit wild mountain hares.

Angus McNicol, Invercauld Estate

Moorland raptors

  • With the assistance of Raptor Study Groups, 51 pairs have been identified, including merlin, golden eagle, peregrine and hen harrier
  • The land could support more raptors and ECMP partners are looking at ways of improving the conservation status of these, along with other red and amber moorland bird species

Breeding productivity of waders

Credit: BTO
  • Together with the British Trust for Ornithology, estate staff have monitored 183 nests in order to better understand the causes of breeding failure
  • Over a two year period, 54% of lapwing, 65% of oystercatcher and 75% of curlew nests successfully hatched

Woodland expansion

  • Woodland currently covers about 10% of the ECMP area
  • Cover has increased by around 1500ha during the past 10 years
  • A further 2500 to 3000ha has been identified for regeneration and planting - including scrub expansion - over the next 10 years

Peatland restoration

Credit: Peatland Action
  • Nearly 700ha of peatland restoration work has been carried out on degraded peatland on ECMP estates
  • This is equivalent to an estimated saving of 8667 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • Further projects, covering approximately 225ha, have been awarded funding from Peatland ACTION so that this vital work can continue - and more projects are planned for later in 2020

Mapping the Muirburn Code

  • In 2019, ECMP keepers and CNPA staff met for a joint muirburn training, demonstration and discussion day to ensure that muirburn follows best practice and minimises the effects on the environment
  • By applying the Muirburn Code, areas that are inappropriate to burn have been identified
  • Less than 40% of 88,000ha of moorland is under rotational muirburn across the six estates

Another example of successful landscape scale collaboration is the Cairngorms Upland Advisory Group (CUAG).

Membership is drawn from organisations and groups which have an interest in upland management issues in and around the Park. Meeting two to three times a year, it acts as an advisory body on upland management and integration of the different land management sectors.

CUAG members agree and promote good practice and their work will inform future land use strategies with the Cairngorms National Park.

Cairngorms Youth Action Team

The Cairngorms Youth Action Team is an empowering and inspiring platform for young people to engage with the natural and cultural heritage of the Park's communities, as well as acting as a voice for young people to tackle issues important to them and create positive change across the Cairngorms National Park.

Following two years of work to create the CYAT, the group was officially launched in October 2019 by Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish Government's Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment.

It's vital that Scotland's young people are listened to and included in decisions that affect their future, and the Cairngorms Youth Action project will do just that ... empowering young people to play a strong role in creating a sustainable future for the Cairngorms.

The creation of the Cairngorms Youth Action Team follows the launch of the Youth Manifesto at the EUROPARC Conference held in Aviemore, with input from young people from National Parks and protected areas across Europe.

The CNPA considers it vital that Scotland's young people are listened to and included in decisions that affect their future and the Cairngorms Youth Action Team is about empowering young people to play a strong role in helping to create a sustainable future for the Park.

Membership of the CYAT is open to anyone aged 14-26 years old, regardless of where they live in Scotland. Its aims include:

  • ensuring there is a strong voice for young peoples' ideas
  • developing a mechanism for grant funding to support new initiatives that support learning and living in the Park for young people
  • organising educational and innovative events
The climate emergency is the single biggest issue to face my generation. We need to make our voice heard and galvanise people into action to help reverse the situation. The Cairngorms Youth Action Team will be committed to speaking out and working on ways we can make that happen.

Ellie Moore, CYAT member

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is one of the single biggest issues we face in our communities, especially for local workers and young people. Over the years, the CNPA has been introducing and adapting policies to ensure that affordable housing is being delivered in the National Park to ensure that we can support a thriving economy with a working age population.

The outstanding quality of the Park's natural environment means that it's a popular place for people to want to live, but it has also resulted in many people buying properties here as second homes and holiday homes. There's also a limited choice of sites suitable for developing future housing needs, pushing up prices and demand.

With higher than average house prices and lower than average wages, businesses often struggle to attract and retain staff due to high housing costs, and young people find getting on the property ladder a pipe dream.

Xander McDade, Convener, CNPA board

Addressing these challenging issues requires strong partnership working from both public and private sectors.

The good news is that progress on affordable housing provision is being made. In 2019/20, the CNPA planning committee granted planning permission for a total of 432 affordable homes in the Cairngorms National Park.

The applications were in communities across the Park, including Dulnain Bridge, Boat of Garten and Ballater.

... this is an excellent proposal and I welcome the provision of affordable housing in a location where it will help meet local need. I am keen that residents can access Boat of Garten safely without the need for a car so I look forward to seeing proposals in the near future for a path linking the development with the village.

Eleanor Mackintosh, Convener, CNPA planning committee

The new Cairngorms National Park Local Development Plan will set out a policy of 45% affordable housing in communities with the most need.

Currently, any housing development over three units seeking planning permission must ensure that 25% of the properties are affordable.

The new Local Development Plan for the Park is set to support this further with a policy that states that 45% of properties are to be affordable in the communities in most need. These include Aviemore, Braemar and Blair Atholl.

The new Cairngorms National Park Local Development Plan - which directs development for the next five years, sets out land allocations to deliver appropriate developments in the right places and policies that will guide future decisions on planning applications - is expected to be adopted later in 2020.

Planning highlights

The CNPA approved over 30 planning applications, including:

  • The renovation of the Ptarmigan Restaurant on Cairngorm Mountain
  • The delivery of affordable housing in communities across the National Park, including Grantown-on-Spey, Aviemore, Ballater, Blair Atholl, Boat of Garten, Carr-Bridge and Dulnain Bridge
Eleanor Mackintosh, Convener of the CNPA Planning Committee, with architect David Livesley and Yvonne Simpson of Albyn Housing Society, at the handover of affordable housing at Inverdruie to Albyn Housing Society

The Cairngorms National Park Local Development Plan was submitted to Scottish Ministers for examination.

Various events were held, including a Planning and Natural Heritage Workshop and an RTPI event to discuss the National Planning Framework.

Prìomh Thachartasan Gàidhlig

Tha dealas againn do leasachadh na Gàidhlig agus meudachadh mhothachaidh is chleachdaidh.

Tha sinn dealasach a thaobh a’ chànan Gàidhlig a leasachadh, mothachadh a thogail agus barrachd cleachdaidh a dhèanamh dhen chànan.

Tha Plana Cànan Gàidhlig Ùghdarras Pàirc Nàiseanta a’ Mhonaidh Ruaidh 2018-2022 a’ mìneachadh mar a bhios sinn:

  • A' cleachdadh Gàidhlig anns na priomh dhleastanasan again
  • A' cleachdadh Gaidhlig nuair a bhios sinn a' conaltradh leis am poball agus prìomh chom-pairtichean
  • A’ brosnachadh barrachd faicsinneachd agus cleachdaidh dhen chànan Gàidhlig

Prìomh thachartasan bho 2019/2020:

  • Cruthachadh de bhidio Gàidhlig, cuairtean treòraichte agus tachartasan aithris sgeulachdan - a’ toirt taic do Fhèis Dualchais Bàideanach
  • Tha an inntearnach Gàidhlig againn air a bhith a’ rannsachadh Sgeulachd na Camanachd ann am Bàideanach agus na ceanglaichean a th’ aige ri cànan is cultar na Gàidhlig. Thèid an goireas air-loidhne, Slighe na Camanachd - a tha cur fòcas air na sgeulachdan agus an eachdraidh aig mòran de na prìomh àiteachan san sgìre - a chuir air bhog ’s an t-Fhoghar 2020 (Le taing do Bhòrd na Gàidhlig airson an taic-maoineachaidh)
  • Cruthan-tire Litreachail: Ainmean-àite Pàircean Nàiseanta na h-Alba - co-phròiseact le Pàirc Nàiseanta Loch Laomainn is nan Tròisichean
  • Gàidhlig mar Mhaoin: Inneal air-loidhne air adhartachadh gu gnìomhachasan anns am Pàirc Nàiseanta tron iomairt ‘Make it Yours’
  • A’ toirt taic do lìbhrigeadh Ro-innleachd Turasachd Gàidhlig na h-Alba, air a stiùireadh le VisitScotland

Gaelic highlights

We are committed to developing the Gaelic language and increasing awareness and its usage.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority Gaelic Language Plan 2018-2022 sets out how we'll:

  • use Gaelic in the operation of our functions
  • enable the uses of Gaelic when communicating with the public and key partners
  • encourage increased use and visibility of Gaelic

Highlights in 2019/2020 include:

  • creation of a Gaelic video, guided walks and storytelling events - supporting the Badenoch Heritage Festival
  • Gaelic intern employed to research and deliver Gaelic experiences in the Park, both online and on the ground - a highlight of which has been the development of an online Shinty Trail for the Badenoch area, focusing on the sport's connection to the Gaelic language and culture, which will be launched in Autumn 2020 (with thanks to Bòrd na Gàidhlig for their funding support)
  • Literary Landscapes: Place Names of Scotland's National Parks - a joint project with Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, this innovative teaching resource - which includes an interactive map - unlocks the language of the land with a focus on place names in the landscape, including Gaelic, Scots, Doric and Norse
  • Gaelic as an Asset online toolkit promoted to National Park Park businesses through our Make it Yours campaign
  • supporting the delivery of the Gaelic Tourism Strategy for Scotland, led by VisitScotland



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© Published by the Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2020. All rights reserved.

Photo credits: Peter Cairns/2020VISION/CNPA; CNPA; Angus Findlay; Mark Hamblin/2020VISION/CNPA; Jane Hope; Jakub Iwanicki/VisitScotland/CNPA; Damian Shields/VisitScotland/CNPA; Wee Epics