Cairngorms National Park receives £12.5 million from Heritage Horizon Awards fund

As part of their Heritage Horizons Awards, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded a package of up to nearly £12.5 million to Cairngorms National Park Authority for a project which will deliver a landscape-scale new community-led lifestyle, and land management and visitor models which improve wellbeing, help nature and contribute to carbon net-zero.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 8:41 am
Over many years the National Lottery Heritage Fund have recognised the significance of the Cairngorms (photo:Ronan Dugan/

The Heritage Horizon Awards were launched in 2019, thanks to funding from National Lottery players, to support ambitious, innovative and transformational projects that will revolutionise UK heritage.

The Cairngorms 2030: people and nature thriving together project has been awarded a possible total of £12,486,100 over the next seven years. Covering over 4500 km², Cairngorms is the largest national park in the UK, and the project will involve over 45 committed partners, ranging from NHS Highland to Deer Management Groups, working together to tackle the climate emergency and nature crisis, delivering an economy that works for all.

The Cairngorms are home to 25% of all threatened and rare species, such as capercaillie, wildcats, osprey and golden eagles.

The project will place the future in the hands of the people and communities who live and work there, as well as those who visit. It will include outdoor health programmes and the creation of a nature-based dementia centre, and will enhance nature through green finance, woodland expansion, peatland restoration, river catchment management, nature friendly farming and sustainable transport. 12 jobs will also be created in the area, with the possibility of further recruitment in later phases of the project.

Caroline Clark, Director for Scotland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted Cairngorms National Park Authority has won this major award in recognition of its ground-breaking holistic proposal to transforming life, environment and nature within an area so highly important to conserving and protecting Scotland’s biodiversity, and with a rich cultural heritage.

“Particularly following the pandemic, it is wonderful to see such an ambitious project connecting wellbeing and the environment, as well as bringing together so many different groups and organisations across such a huge area. Thanks to National Lottery players, we can help enable the creation of a new community-led climate emergency response in this magnificent National Park, with the people and nature of the Cairngorms at its heart.”

Scottish Government Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, Màiri McAllan, said: “Scotland has world leading ambitions to reach net zero by 2045 in a way that is fair and just. Our national parks will play a key role in making that happen. With COP26 coming to Glasgow this year, this project is a great example of community based action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss and to improve wellbeing.

“The Cairngorms are a national treasure and this work won’t just be transformative for our environment but for local communities and the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the national park every year.”

Xander McDade, Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “On behalf of the over 45 partners, community groups, land managers and voluntary organisations involved in our bid, we’re thrilled that the Cairngorms National Park has received nearly £12.5m as part of the Heritage Horizon Awards.

“We believe that it is only by communities coming together that we can tackle the climate emergency and nature crisis. This funding allows us to take forward critical work in communities and landscapes right across the National Park, from the creation of a nature-based dementia centre to citizens’ assemblies fostering local decision-making; from woodland expansion and peatland restoration to nature friendly farming, sustainable transport, green finance, and creating a well-being economy.

“Our plans are ambitious but the situation facing our country and our planet demands that we do things differently. With the help of National Lottery players, together with our many funding partners, we can now look forward to turning this transformational vision into reality.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “I am delighted that we are announcing Heritage Horizon Awards which back big ideas and unlock enormous possibilities, following a year in which we have been focused on supporting heritage through the COVID emergency.

“The pandemic has shown us all clearly what matters to us, particularly in relation to nature and climate change. This is a major priority for us as an organisation, and three of these projects will be transformational for the green environment. All five share qualities of huge ambition, significant collaboration and the prospect of life-changing benefits for people and places deserving of support from the National Lottery. This is an exciting day for the UK’s heritage.”

Over many years the National Lottery Heritage Fund have recognised the significance of the Cairngorms as an area which houses and protects much of our environmental and habitat heritage in Scotland.

Over recent years, a total of £5,671,200 has already been given to the Cairngorms National Park for four projects - Cairngorms Capercaillie Project; Great Place Scheme: Badenoch Heritage - bringing the past to the 21st century; Tomintoul & Glenlivet Hidden Histories Landscape Partnership; and Cairngorms Moorland Project.

Further funding has been given to other projects in the Cairngorms area, including recently to Braemar Castle and to the Silver Saplings project. Other major investments included support towards the purchase of the Mar Lodge estate by the National Trust for Scotland in 1995.

Only last week the National Lottery Fund in Scotland approved a £1.9m award to the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Kingussie, to help create an exciting new gateway into the natural environment and habitats of the spectacular Cairngorms National Park area.