Co-researching the Cairngorms: Supporting the Aims of, not just Researching in, the Cairngorms National Park
Blackstock, K.; Dinnie, L.; Trench, H.; Miles, G.
Scottish Geographical Journal 127(1): 40-60
Scotland's two national parks (Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs) represent a new institutional approach to the governance of protected areas, with a wider focus on sustainable development and working in partnership as well as protecting natural and cultural heritage. The stated purpose of the Cairngorms national park, as presented in its plan (CNPP), is to achieve its four aims in a collective and coordinated way. Our ongoing evaluation of the plan development and implementation found that stakeholder deliberations tended to focus on three broad objectives: to protect its special qualities, to deliver sustainable development and to integrate potentially competing interests. The paper reflects on the role the Scottish research community could play in supporting the delivery of the CNPP and therefore the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 using these three objectives to structure the analysis. The paper ends with five recommendations for how researchers can work 'with', not just 'in' or 'on' Scottish national parks. These suggestions have application beyond the specific context of the Cairngorms, as the paper speaks to researchers' social contract with society and the requirement to demonstrate the relevance and impact of research.