A conservation charity is appealing to Scotland’s seaside communities as it seeks to change the “unfulfilled dream” of having a coastal and marine national park.

Despite the “extraordinary natural beauty” of Scotland’s coast, it only has two national parks – in the Cairngorms; and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

But with the Scottish Government having pledged to create at least one more national park before the next Holyrood elections in 2026, the Blue Marine Foundation is calling on coastal communities to consider if their area should be granted the special status.

Joe Richards, the charity’s Scotland project manager said: “Scotland has almost a tenth of all Europe’s coastline, including some extraordinary natural beauty, and so many of our most iconic places are where the sea meets the land.

“However, the dream of a coastal and marine National Park for Scotland has long gone unfulfilled. It’s time for that to change.”

READ MORE: How the Cairngorms and its natural beauty took on a new identity

With the Scottish Government currently accepting pre-registrations from community groups who might make a formal bid when nominations open this autumn, he called for those in coastal communities “who already have a vision for how their coastline and seascape can be protected and enhanced” to contact the Foundation.

And he said: “The most important thing to know is that the process will be very straightforward: it’ll be about how good your idea is, not how glossy your application looks.”

Nikki Sinclair, of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, said with a new national park to be designated there was now a “real opportunity for areas of Scotland’s iconic coastline and seascapes to be part of this”.

Ms Sinclair insisted Scotland was an “outlier” in only having two national parks at present, as she added: “As well as bringing environmental protection, designation can bring additional resources and significant social and economic benefits to places which richly deserve it.”

Meanwhile Cal Major, an ambassador for the National Trust for Scotland, said it was “excited at the possibility of a new national park”.

She stated: “Scotland’s coastlines and seas are beautiful, environmentally rich places that we must conserve, especially in the face of climate and biodiversity crises.

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“We’re convinced there’s a strong case to consider a coastal and marine national park as this could help protect our unique coastal and marine heritage and wildlife.”

The adventurer continued: “Unlike England and Wales, Scotland does not yet have a marine and coastal national park. With the Scottish Government’s commitment to create at least one new national park, communities now have a chance to change that.

“The National Trust for Scotland will not take forward our own bid but we will support communities in the places we care for, including coastal communities, that submit their own bids. We encourage communities to register their interest with Scottish ministers now.”

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