Scotland will soon have a third national park, with Affric and Loch Ness announcing on Friday it is one of the official applicants.

Humphrey Clarke, Chair of Strathglass Community Council, said: “We are leading on the nomination process and want to hear and represent the views of local people and stakeholders. We believe Affric and Loch Ness National Park would enable local people to protect and enhance our natural environment for future generations, while providing opportunities for sustainable employment and housing. 

“The area is already popular with visitors, providing an important income stream in rural areas, and national park status would provide access to funding and empower local people.”

It is not the only area bidding, however.

Here's what you need to know about plans for a new national park in five minutes.

Read More: Bid launched to nominate Affric and Loch Ness as Scotland’s third national park

What is a national park?

National parks have special rules which encourage local authorities to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area, promote sustainable use of its natural resource and keep it open for the enjoyment of the public.

What are Scotland's current national parks

There are currently two: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Cairngorms National Park.

The Herald: Glen Affric

Which areas have already applied?

A number of areas have already submitted expressions of interest, including Galloway, the Scottish Borders, the Tay Forest, Lochaber, Skye and Raasay, Affric to Alladale, Glen Affric, the Lammermuirs, Largo Bay and Loch Awe. 

Other contenders include a coastal and marine park, and the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area. 

When does the bidding shut?

Local communities have until February 29 to make a proposal.

What will happen then?

Registration will allow Scottish Government to update interested parties with any important information, key dates and communications throughout the process. It will also enable Scottish Government to contact interested parties about the offer of support that will be made available during the nomination process.

When will the new national park be opened?

The Scottish Government has committed to opening at least one new national park by Easter of 2026.