The National Park Family

The Cairngorms National Park is one of a number of different forms of protected area in Scotland.  Some of these forms of protection are well known – National Nature Reserves, for example. Other forms are more obscure but all protected areas are “management tools”, designed to try and protect the best natural or historical features of Scotland for people to use and enjoy in the future. Protected areas work alongside other legislation that helps protect our environment – for example species protection and pollution prevention laws.

Most countries now have National Parks. However, there is a great variety of forms of National Park because each nation creates its own approach to suit its own needs. But all National Parks have the following common features:

  • they identify areas of land or sea - usually extensive areas - which are of the very highest value to the nation for their scenery and wildlife, and often for their cultural heritage value;
  • they have systems of governance that provide positive management and additional resources to safeguard the special qualities of these areas for the long term; and
  • they provide opportunities for the public to enjoy these areas, because they are usually highly attractive places to visit.

In England and Wales most National Parks were established using legislation dating from 1949. You can find out more about their various histories, management issues and the opportunities for visiting them at the Association of National Park Authorities website

One of the features of the Cairngorms National Park is that it provides an overarching management approach to a large landscape which has other more strictly protected areas within it. For example, there are 8 National Nature Reserves within the Park where the land is managed primarily for the conservation of nature. Similarly some of the towns within the Park have their buildings designated as Conservation Areas where special planning laws help protect the character and appearance of the buildings.