Apr 2 2010 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
ENVIRONMENT Minister Roseanna Cunningham announced a £400,000 fund to help protect and enhance some of the most popular locations around Loch Lomondside.
Ms Cunningham made the announcement during a visit to Sallochy Bay and Milarrochy, sites within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, to discuss work underway to improve the visitor experience.
The funding – provided by the National Park Authority, Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) – will support a range of measures including site improvements, traffic management and improved visitor facilities.
Ms Cunningham said: “We have some of the most spectacular, unspoilt landscapes in the world, including our iconic national parks which attract thousands of tourists a year and are essential for our rural economic development and recreation.
“But welcoming millions of visitors every year means this beautiful location is subject to a considerable amount of wear and tear – and it unfortunately attracts a small number of people who pay scant attention to the environment.
“The National Park Authority, working with key partners, has long term plans to make sure we keep areas in the park special for generations to come.”
The park authority has been leading on the development of a comprehensive visitor management strategy for East Loch Lomond and has been working with Forestry Commission Scotland, Stirling Council, Central Scotland Police, SNH and the local community to work on proposals that will enhance the area.
Members of the East Loch Lomond Management Group, which aims to improve the visitor experience of East Loch Lomond and reduce the impacts of visitor pressure and anti-social behaviour, were also on hand to discuss the planned improvements.
Bob McIntosh, director of Forestry Commission Scotland said: “The commission manages over 100 trails in the national park and a large number of key tourism centres generating over £13 million to the economy each year.
“It is quite right that we encourage visitors to this magnificent part of Scotland but we need to do it in a sustainable way that protects the surrounding environment. This new cash boost signals that all the organisations involved in conserving and managing Loch Lomond are committed to its future development.”
The park’s chief executive Fiona Logan said: “We very much welcome the funding commitment from our partners and thank the Minister for supporting our plans to make sure that East Loch Lomond remains a place where people can come and have a great visitor experience.
“We are committed to delivering first class facilities with our partners and this funding will enable us to introduce better facilities for those visitors within East Loch Lomond. We have an obligation to look after the landscape around us and, working with our partners, the funding is a significant milestone to achieving our aims.”
Kevin Lilburn, chair of the visitor management group and director of the Buchanan Community Trust added: “The local community are delighted that the funding has been found to implement many of the improvements that we have been looking for in East Loch Lomond.
“The capital investment along with improvements in policing and the proposed camping and alcohol byelaws will help ensure a high quality visitor experience for people coming to the area and also a better quality of life for those that live in the area.”
Angus Laing, SNH's area manager, said: “Loch Lomondside is loved by people near and far. To many people, especially in the west of Scotland, it is almost a family heirloom. Like our heirlooms though it needs to be looked after as well as enjoyed.
“The landscapes and wildlife of the park are there for everyone to enjoy and this funding will help to ensure that into the future.”