For Scotland’s Climate Week (26th Sept – 2nd Oct 2022), members of the National Park Youth Committee and Junior Rangers have written a letter outlining their thoughts on the climate emergency in the National Park and how it can be addressed.
Here you can read their joint letter and the response from National Park Chief Executive, Gordon Watson.
We are writing to you because we are strongly worried by the climate crisis and uncertain about what the future holds if urgent action is not taken to address it.
We understand and are deeply concerned about the risks that climate change poses for both the people and nature here in the National Park. Rising temperatures, changes in precipitation and more frequent flooding. These impacts will not only change how we live but they also pose huge threats to our biodiversity and the native organisms that live here too.
The carbon emissions caused by the broad use of the National Park are a huge concern for us, such as those from litter left in this beautiful place and especially emissions by tourists who have to rely on cars to travel to and from here.
As young people, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the potential impacts of climate change and the lack of urgency to address it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what we can do to make an impact.
However we are optimistic that now is a time for significant action and we think that the National Park can play a major role in this.
We want our National Park to be a catalyst for change.
We want this place to be an example of what can be done to protect both nature and the climate if the will is there.
The National Park can make decisions and enact more policies to reduce emissions and encourage people to change their behaviours for the better. The Park Authority can also spread awareness of the impact that climate change is having here and the things that we can all do to stop it.
We want the National Park to work with both local people and the wider global network of protected areas to share ideas, engage communities and create solutions. But most importantly, we want to ensure that everyone’s voice – including those of young people – are heard on this issue and that the National Park Authority listens and reacts.
By bringing more people together to focus on the climate, and by actively listening to what we have to say, we can all feel more empowered to make positive change.
National Park Youth Committee and Junior Rangers
Dear Junior Rangers and Youth Committee members
Thank you for your letter. As ever, I’m blown away by your commitment to this special place and share your appetite for urgent action to secure a better future for it.
Climate change is a generation-defining challenge and can feel very scary and overwhelming, but you’re right that the National Park has a significant role to play in how Scotland’s responds to it. Our National Park should be an exemplar for both Scotland and the world, and I want to reassure you that tackling both the joint climate emergency and the nature crises is our core focus.
Let me share some examples of the things we are already doing. Firstly, we are making changes to how we work to meet our goal of becoming a Net Zero organisation by 2030. This includes doing things like upgrading our buildings to become more energy efficient, working towards using an electric-only fleet of vehicles to get around the National Park, and sharing what we learn from our own Mission Zero journey with others to encourage them to do the same.
We are also continuing to develop our Future Nature programme to raise ambitions and actions to restore nature in the National Park at bigger scale. This will include restoring important habitats and the networks that connect them while also repairing and enhancing our vital natural carbon stores like peatlands and woodlands.
Transport is another area where we are working to reduce emissions by exploring how we can create a modal shift away from car-based travel and provide better connectivity for visitors and our communities, links to active travel networks and a joined-up transport system that is inclusive for all. I know this is a particular concern for our young people.
But this is not yet enough. We know that to truly address the climate emergency, we need to see an unprecedented scale of change and we need to see it urgently over the next few years.
Our first step towards this is to begin working with our partners and everyone who lives and works in the National Park to set our ambitions and create a route map for how the National Park as a place will also reach Net Zero.
To achieve this goal we must adapt to our changed and changing climate by reducing all sources of emissions – including those from land use, transport, tourism, and our overall footprint – as well significantly investing in nature.
As the National Park Authority with responsibility for this special place, we will be spearheading this work by leading action and sharing our story, so that everyone is aware of what they can do to restore and protect our National Park – but we cannot do this alone.
This year we have started the process of developing our next National Park Partnership Plan, along with some of other key strategies, which will guide all our work over the next five years and beyond. It is also where we will try to secure support from many partners such as local authorities and other national bodies to join our mission. The plan will set out clearly how we will go about achieving our climate and nature ambitions while transitioning to a greener economy.
Over the coming months, we will be working with range of organisations, stakeholders and individuals to raise awareness of the challenges we are facing and gaining views on how we work together to create solutions. I’m delighted that our Youth Committee and Junior Rangers are already thinking about these issues and sharing your priorities with me. We want to hear from as many people as possible, including lesser-heard voices, and especially young people who live both within and outside the National Park area. We want to use this opportunity to provide a platform for you to raise your voices, so that your concerns are heard and acted upon by everyone, including us.
Embarking on this work marks a pivotal moment for the National Park as we set a new long-term vision and step-up commitments to climate and nature, so that we create a better, more sustainable, healthier future for us all. This will be our legacy.
Chief Executive, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority