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The Cairngorms National Park is Britain's largest and newest national park. The Park is 3800 km 2 in area, roughly twice the size of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. It contains within it a unique range of landscapes, wildlife, habitats, and people.

Four of Scotland's five highest mountains are within the Park; there are 52 summits over 900 metres. 10% of the land area is over 800 metres and 68% is over 400 metres above sea level. The land above 600 metres - known as the 'montane zone' - is the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the British Isles. The Spey, Dee and Don valleys are major features of the lower ground.

39% of the park area is designated as important for natural heritage; 25% is of European importance. The central mountain area provides a harsh habitat for a unique assemblage of vegetation, insects and animals - the national Park is home to 25% of the UK's threatened bird, animal and plant species. The forests of the Cairngorms contain remnants of the original Caledonian pine forest and include a rare kind of pinewood found only in Scotland and Norway. Heather moorland covers about 40% of the Park. The rivers, lochs and marshes are among the cleanest in Scotland.

Agriculture is an important land use in the Cairngorms. Most of the farms in the Cairngorms National Park are livestock farms, some with small areas of crops for feeding to livestock, as well as some barley grown for whisky distilleries (Cairngorms National Park Authority, 2005).

However, against the recommendation of SNH, at this stage the Cairngorms National Park still excludes Angus & Perthshire Glens, and the debate about their inclusion is still on-going.

Two thirds of the Cairngorms National Park is above 400m; this includes the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in Great Britain . The Park is particularly rich in threatened species and habitats. Most of the agricultural land within the Park is used for grazing livestock.


Cairngorms National Park Authority (2005): The Park – Key Facts; External Website

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (2005): State of the Park Report 2005; External Website

SNH (2005): National Parks; External Website

Possible links to other Briefing Notes