Enabling Sustainable Development: Governance of the Cairngorms National Park

Published on 1 February 2009 in Sustainability and Communities



The Cairngorms National Park Authority and the Macaulay Institute are working together to evaluate the process of developing the National Park Plan and its implementation.

Key Points

The Cairngorms National Park requires a new approach to planning and management that integrates many different issues; works with many different partners in delivering the desired outcomes; and takes account of issues at the local, national and international level.
The research will help the Park Authority work more effectively with their partners to deliver policies that are joined up, effective, efficient and equitable.

Research Undertaken

The research questions are:

  • Who is involved in developing and implementing the Park Plan?
  • How is the integration of the various issues managed within the overall Park Plan?
  • Are there changes in those involved, and the issues raised, over time?
 The research draws on a combination of data (interviews, participant observation of meetings and analysis of published documents) that provide multiple perspectives on the development of the National Park Plan. The research is collaborative, as it is done with, and for, the organisations and communities involved in managing the Park. Initial findings from the phase covering the development, consultation and approval of the strategic Park Plan suggest that participants were relatively happy with the process of developing the Park Plan and praised the commitment and professionalism of the staff involved.
There was more ambivalence with regard to the content of the Park Plan. This can be explained by the strategic nature of the Plan and the lack of detail regarding implementation. The research also highlighted differences in opinions regarding the objectives of the National Park.
In autumn of 2007, the findings and their implications were presented to the Park Authority Board. Subsequent discussion focussed on how best to include the multiple stakeholders involved, how to effectively respond to the issues raised; how to integrate the (at times) conflicting desires for the National Park; and how to translate strategic aims to operational activities. A fundamental point arising from the research is the need to demonstrate (a) how the Park Plan meshed with the individual organisation’s or community’s priorities and (b) how the coordination and enabling functions of the Park authority help to deliver the aims of the National Park Act.
Measuring responsibility: an appraisal of a Scottish National Park's sustainable tourism indicators. - Blackstock, K.L., White, V.; McCrum, G.; Scott, A. and Hunter, C. - Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

Policy Implications

 Currently, we are collecting data on the implementation of the Park Plan and aim to provide further feedback. The research is funded by the Scottish Government’s Environment Programme on Landscape and Rural Stewardship (Programme 3).


Kirsty Blackstock k.blackstock@macaulay.ac.uk


Sustainability and Communities

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