Newly elected National Park Board Convener Heather Reid shares her thoughts on leading our Board at this pivotal time for our National Park.
It is a tremendous honour to have been elected as Convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority and to lead our Board at what is one of the most exciting times in our National Park’s history.
As someone who has loved visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs from early childhood – initially to camp, hike and fish with my dad – to more recently, mountain biking with my husband and walking the West Highland Way with my daughter, I care deeply about this very special place.
My interest in applying to become a National Park Authority Board member started with my own background in weather and climate. For almost 30 years (yes, I am feeling old!) I have been involved in engaging a range of different audiences in weather and climate.
Firstly, as a weather forecaster and scientist for the UK Met Office and BBC Scotland and now as a science education consultant developing learning and teaching resources around weather, climate, energy, and sustainability.
It was while creating a workshop for adult learners that I started looking at the impacts of our changing climate on National Parks and decided that I might have something to contribute as a National Park Board member. After a demanding interview process, I was delighted to join the National Park Authority Board in October 2018.
During my first four years as a Ministerial Appointment to the Board I learned a huge amount by becoming more involved in the National Park’s work on climate change and net zero.
This role allowed me to support staff in developing our Mission Zero route map and to begin work on analysing how the National Park might become a Net Zero Place.
Climate action is a theme that is relevant to everyone in the organisation and it allowed me to interact with motivated staff across all departments.
Another area where I have thoroughly enjoyed contributing is with our amazing Youth Committee. I love attending their meetings and trying to help create ways for our youth engagement to have the most effective impact across the organisation.
And rest assured, our young people’s views are informed, knowledgeable and most importantly, challenging. The Board and our staff have gained a greater understanding and appreciation of topics like sustainable travel, nature restoration and visitor infrastructure investment because of ideas and contributions from our Youth Committee. I will be doing everything in my power as Convener to ensure we continue to support and embed youth voices across all that we do, while also striving to engage with other under-represented groups.
A major focus as I take up this new role – for me and my fellow Board members – will be on the continuing development of our new National Park Partnership Plan. This is our five-year (2024-2029) management plan for the National Park, which has just been published in draft format in our March Board Papers.
This new Partnership Plan gives us the opportunity to re-focus our efforts on tackling the twin crises of nature loss and climate change, while aiming to create a low carbon, sustainable destination and to enable a greener economy and sustainable living within our National Park.
Supported by the current thinking from Scottish Government and our National Parks Minister, we want to demonstrate a step change in how landscape-scale nature restoration and a nature positive rural economy can work in a fair and just way for all.
In the coming months, we will be consulting with stakeholders and the public on the themes, outcomes, and actions within the draft plan.
We don’t have all the answers right now – and we look forward to future government legislation in these areas – but we’re excited to be working with all those with an interest in the National Park during 2023 to achieve a Partnership Plan that brings multiple benefits to our communities, businesses, land managers, young people, visitors, and to our wonderful natural landscapes.
I am relishing the challenge and look forward to meeting many of you while I am out and about in our spectacular Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.