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Lochaber, Scotland
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These five picturesque areas have been shortlisted to become Scotland’s third national park

At least one new national park will be created by 2026

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

While there are 15 national parks in the UK, Scotland is home to just two (the Cairngorms and Lock Lomond and the Trossachs). That’s despite the fact that Scotland undoubtedly has some of the most magnificent and world-renowned landscapes on the planet – plenty of which deserve official protected ‘national park’ status. 

After being first hinted last year, now it’s been confirmed that Scotland will get a third national park. Over 20 years since the last one was created, the Scottish Government has pledged to designate at least one new park by 2026.

Nominations opened in October last year and now we know the shortlist. The five places in the running are: the Scottish Borders, Galloway, Lochaber, Loch Awe and Tay Forest.

In the UK, being a national park means that the area’s land and wildlife are under close protection. The label can help boost tourism and the local economy – but it’s also proven somewhat divisive. A lot of areas pulled the plug on their applications due to concerns from locals over farming restrictions, pressure from tourism and the risk of rising house prices. 

The next step is for each shortlisted spot to go through appraisal by the Scottish government. A final favourite will be picked by the summer. 

Kat Jones, the director of Action to Protect Rural Scotland, said: ’National parks in Scotland, in contrast to those in many other parts of the world, are tasked to deliver for people, nature and landscape. This recognition of how important people and livelihoods are for our landscapes, means national parks are in a unique position to lead the way on the nature and climate crises while also supporting thriving, sustainable communities.’

Time Out on Britain’s national parks

Our national parks are the jewel in the UK’s crown, and these are ten of the very best. England and Wales are also currently on the lookout for new national park candidates. Plus read why the Brecon Beacons has had a Welsh-language rebrand, why this national park is planting thousands of new trees and how could trek across all 15

Did you see that this Mexican restaurant chain is officially the most sustainable in the UK?

Plus: This Scottish luxury manor has been crowned Britain’s best hotel by the Times

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