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National Lottery Grants £10.7 Million for Pioneering Net Zero Initiative in UK's National Park




The National Lottery Heritage Fund has recently announced a generous grant of £10.7 million to the Cairngorms National Park Authority, marking a significant step towards the Park's ambitious aspiration to become the UK's inaugural net zero emissions national park. This funding is a crucial component of the Cairngorms 2030 initiative. This comprehensive project amalgamates 20 long-term programs to foster nature restoration, promote active travel and sustainable transport, and support community development alongside health and well-being, backed by an overarching investment of £42.3 million.


This initiative is set to transform the Cairngorms, the UK's largest National Park, into a vibrant hub of ecological innovation and sustainability. With the collaboration of over 70 partners, including the NHS, educational institutions, NGOs, landowners, and local businesses, the project aims to cultivate an area equivalent to 1,500 football fields of new woodland. It also plans to advance nature-friendly farming practices, leverage green finance, and implement pioneering solutions for environmental preservation.


Among the notable endeavours under this project are the development of the world's inaugural outdoor dementia resource centre, the restoration of 6,500 hectares of peatland crucial for carbon sequestration, the integration of nature-based prescriptions within NHS services, and the revitalisation of the Spey, Dee, and Esk rivers. These efforts were informed by the perspectives of over 4,000 individuals connected to the National Park, reflecting nearly two years of comprehensive engagement.


Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf welcomed the new funding, hailing Scotland's National Parks as "more important than ever" in helping tackle both biodiversity and climate crises and strengthening rural communities.


"We are proud to support the Cairngorms to become the UK's first net zero national park," he added. "The Cairngorms 2030 project is an excellent example of over 70 partners working together to deliver benefits for rural communities, businesses and the natural environment.


"Our National Parks create new employment opportunities and promote green skills and jobs. They also help to generate and channel investment into the area's natural resources. Investing in protecting and enhancing Scotland's precious environment creates great opportunities that will benefit people and communities throughout the country, particularly in rural areas."


Sandy Bremner, convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, added that the five-year, £42.3m Cairngorms 2030 initiative will put the power to tackle the nature and climate crisis in the hands of people in the Park.


"It will benefit people's health and well-being, develop sustainable transport solutions, and help nature - and we are ready to get started on delivering for all those who live, work, and visit this very special place," she said.


Eilish McGuinness, chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, described Cairngorms 2030 as an "ambitious and exemplary project with integrity and heart".


"The project, part of our Heritage Horizons programme, which focussed on transformation in heritage, is pioneering - leading the way for the Heritage Fund's strategic ambition to champion large-scale, long-term and innovative solutions to climate change and nature's crises, with people at the core," she said.


"As the UK's largest funder of heritage, we collaborate with organisations who share our vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future. I am very proud of how this project has developed as a collective and supportive endeavour to ensure the National Park becomes a global exemplar.


The Cairngorms 2030 project is among five UK projects to receive Heritage Horizon Awards, signalling a significant investment in the nation's natural and cultural heritage. This includes funding for the Peatland Progress initiative in the Cambridgeshire Fens and the development of the UK's first Marine Park in Plymouth, underscoring a broad commitment to environmental preservation and sustainable development.


Elaine Hayes, Plymouth Sound National Marine Park CEO, said the project has been designed to maximise the number of people accessing the National Marine Park's incredible built and natural heritage.


"This journey to connect people with the sea in a new way will ensure that the communities of Plymouth can be active and engaged citizens of the sea," she said. "This will enable access to all the benefits that the National Marine Park can offer but will also be an integral part of restoring and protecting the world-class nature and landscape of the Sound, and we are very grateful to National Lottery players for making this possible." 


These announcements align with recent government measures aimed at fulfilling a commitment to protect 30% of the UK's land and sea for nature by 2030, showcasing a multifaceted approach to environmental stewardship and conservation.

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