The nature and wildlife of Scotland’s national parks is set to benefit with the Scottish Government announcing a funding boost for conservation projects.

Part of the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority have been awarded a share of £550,000 to support ecological restoration and species recovery projects in their areas.

Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity made the announcement on a visit to the Cairngorms National Park.

Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater said: “Scotland’s National Parks are unique places that provide so many benefits for nature, climate and people. Both Parks have a vital role to play in securing a more sustainable future for Scotland and helping us meet our ambitious target to restore biodiversity by 2045.

“This new funding will help achieve landscape-scale conservation of species and habitat across our National Parks, helping some of Scotland’s most special wildlife to thrive – including farmland wader bird populations, such as curlews and oystercatchers, and a rare and endangered species of aspen. It will also help support smaller, grass roots initiatives and inspire everyone to play their part in restoring nature.

“This award is part of our Nature Restoration Fund – Scotland’s largest ever fund for nature. Since we launched the fund at COP26 this is already having a real impact across Scotland, restoring rivers and floodplains, regenerating our forests and recovering our wildlife populations.”

The Cairngorms National Park is home to 25 per cent of Britain’s threatened bird, animal and plant species and is one of the most important areas for nature conservation in the UK. Protecting and enhancing these special habitats and species – as well as tackling the climate emergency – are at the core of the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan and this additional financial package for the Park Authority will help deliver the actions outlined, boosting conservation efforts over the next few years.

Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority Board, Sandy Bremner welcomed the funding announcement: “The funding commitment from Scottish Government will let us step up the restoration of ecosystems here in the National Park, where our aim is for people and nature to thrive together. From large, headline projects to small community endeavours, the extra resource is greatly appreciated and will be carefully targeted to ensure the very best outcomes.

“Of course, what is good for nature is good for people. Investment in ecological restoration and species conservation projects provides an economic boost locally, with funding used to pay for contractors, surveyors and other land based workers.”

The type of projects that funding will be directed towards include landscape-scale partnerships that are helping to deliver nature restoration – while integrating successfully with land management businesses. Investment will also be made in innovative solutions that tackle the nature crisis and continue to build momentum for practical solutions such as sustainable moorland management and integrated peatland, woodland and freshwater restoration at catchment scale.

Funding will also support long term projects and partnerships with capital finance, allowing Park Authorities to move away from the current process of awarding a series of annual grants. Instead a system that increases operational capacity and resilience that secures wider funding opportunities will evolve – helping to reduce the dependency on public funds while still delivering for nature.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is home to more than 300 national priority species and over 60 Designated Sites recognised for their special habitats and species. The National Park Authority is working with partners, communities and land managers on a Future Nature programme to halt nature loss in the National Park by 2030 and achieve widespread restoration and recovery of nature by 2040.

Simon Jones, Director of Environment and Visitor Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “As we prepare our next National Park Partnership Plan and consider how we come together to achieve a sustainable future for the National Park, one thing that is abundantly clear is that how we all approach the protection of nature must go through fundamental change.

“Until now we have largely focussed on protecting important species and habitats, trying to lessen the negative impacts of damaging activities and developments. The focus now must extend beyond that, to actively re-build nature, to expand important habitats and create new connected nature networks where species can expand and thrive. At the same time, we need to prioritise tackling key threats including invasive species, high grazing pressures and land management that has negative impacts on water bodies. All of these things continue to erode the diversity and abundance of nature over time.

“We welcome this additional funding and envisage it supporting projects including the expansion of the rare temperate rainforest in the National Park and the landscape-scale nature restoration work underway in places like The Great Trossachs Forest.”