People from a wider range of backgrounds are enjoying, valuing and helping manage the National Park. It is used more as a place for people to realise the personal health and wellbeing benefits of active recreation and connecting with nature.
For many people the National Park provides their first experience of the ‘wild outdoors’, whether it’s marvelling at the tranquillity of a quiet loch, climbing their first mountain or camping for the first time. Encouraging people of all ages to enjoy and be confident in the outdoors will help promote healthy lifestyles, valuing nature and understanding of responsible use of the countryside.
Health and wellbeing
The contribution that the environment can make towards improving health and wellbeing is well recognised, benefiting both physical and mental health, as well as social wellbeing. The National Park has a wide range of easily reached and inspiring outdoor experiences which could help address health issues for people living within easy reach of the National Park.
The National Park Authority now has a well-established Volunteer Ranger Service as well as conservation volunteers supporting our work and that of other local organisations and communities.
The number of people volunteering in the National Park has grown significantly and in our annual volunteer survey 80% of volunteers indicated that volunteering benefited their health and wellbeing. There is significant scope for us to create further partnerships and volunteer opportunities as a way of supporting many of the priorities identified in this Plan.
A range of high quality outdoor learning opportunities are currently offered to young people in the National Park. This helps give them a range of skills and experiences that encourage the value of nature and the outdoors. The National Park’s rich cultural heritage also provides a learning resource, including the promotion of the Gaelic language.
It’s also important to get more young people involved in influencing policies and decision making as well as the co-design of services. The National Park Authority can also have an influential role in creating training and apprenticeship opportunities and helping to develop the young work force in the National Park.
Reaching a wider audience
There is scope to engage with a wider range of groups in society and support recreational enjoyment, responsible behaviour and stronger appreciation of the need to look after the environment.
There are still many people living in nearby urban areas who have never visited the National Park and may lack the means, confidence or knowledge to do so. Further partnerships could be developed to create more, valuable opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn about the National Park.
The priorities for Outcome 9 are outlined below:
Priority 9.1 - Health Improvement
Improving how the National Park can be used to support health improvement, strengthening links to health focused activities such as walking, outdoor learning and volunteering programmes as well as sports hubs, award schemes, outdoor activity providers, active travel opportunities and Park mobility schemes.
Increasing opportunities for engagement, volunteering and education activities, especially for young people and those who are experiencing disadvantage or have difficulty in accessing the National Park.