Forestry and woodlands are good for wildlife, the economy, for people and for the planet – and now the people of Badenoch and Strathspey can have their say on how their havens should be enhanced and extended over the next century.
The Cairngorms National Park Forest Strategy is out for consultation from this week. It is the key document providing strategic direction on future forest management and restoration of woodlands in the park for at least the next two decades.
Forests and woodlands cover 16.4 per cent of the park’s land area while in Scotland as a whole the figure is 18 per cent.
But Cairngorms forests are disproportionately significant for rare flora and fauna with its very high proportion of native tree species.
Will Boyd Wallis, the park’s head of land management and conservation. commented: "The Cairngorms National Park contains some of the finest native woodlands in the country. Our vision is for the forests of the park to flourish and expand, providing us and future generations with better connected forest habitats, more diverse landscapes, outstanding recreational experiences and greater opportunities for local business development.
"But it is not just for the park authority to determine what the Strategy should contain – anyone with an interest is encouraged to take a look and tell us what they think the priorities should be when it comes to our forests and woodlands."
As well as a vision for forestry for the next 20–100 years, the project sets out 10 strategic objectives, including restoration and natural regeneration of woodlands; promoting the creation and enhancement of productive forests and promoting responsible access. Policy Guidance is also included on integrating woodland creation with other land uses such as moorland management and agriculture as well as habitat enhancement to support rare species.
CNPA Board Member Angela Douglas said: "People may think that commenting on the Cairngorms Forest Strategy is something quite specialist but that is not the case.
"Forests and woodlands are seen, experienced and enjoyed by many. They impact on all areas of our lives from providing the fresh air we breathe, shelter, how and where we switch off or exercise, to the timber used throughout our homes and the paper we hold.
"For me it will be important to see the wonderful mix of forests, woods and trees we are so lucky to have being enhanced and better connections between our forests and woodlands in the coming years creating safe wildlife corridors for all sorts of birds and animals. "I would urge everyone to get involved in the consultation and help create forests and woodlands worthy of a national park."
The consultation closes on March 25. For more information or to take part visit the CNPA website.