The creation of a national park in the Scottish Borders has been suggested by two leading landscape charities in a new report.
On Wednesday, the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) and the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) launched the joint report, calling for the establishment of at least seven more national parks in Scotland.
An extension of Northumberland National Park to take in the Scottish side of the Cheviots is one of the suggestions contained in the report.
Jimmie Macgregor MBE, president of APRS, said: “Scotland’s landscapes rank amongst the best in the world – we have wild mountains, pristine rivers and lochs, ancient forests, stunning coastline and islands, all rich in wildlife and history.
“Yet, out of 3,500 National Parks in the world, Scotland has only two. The first two have been a great success – surely it’s time for more.”
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs was designated a national park in 2002 and the Cairngorms National Park followed in 2003.
The two charities have argued that these two national parks have proved their value, and that it is now time for more to be established across Scotland.
The report, written by John Mayhew, manager of the Scottish National Parks Strategy Project, states of the Cheviots: “The Scotland/England border runs along the ridge of the Cheviot Hills, so the southern flanks of the Cheviot Hills in England are included in the Northumberland National Park, yet the northern flanks in Scotland have only limited protection through ‘area of great kandscape value’ designation.
“However, the landscape quality of the northern side is as great as, if not greater than, that to the south, so there would be a great deal of sense in extending the Northumberland National Park into Scotland.”
Mr Mayhew added: “This would be the first cross-border national park in the British Isles, although this would not be particularly unusual, as there are several examples of cross-border national parks elsewhere in the world.”
The other areas suggested for national park designation are: Ben Nevis, Glen Coe and Black Mount; a coastal and marine area based around Mull; an area of Galloway; Glen Affric; Harris; and Wester Ross.
Bill McDermott, chairman of SCNP, said: “Scots-born naturalist, explorer and writer John Muir inspired the creation of the world’s first national parks in 19th-century USA and is known as the Father of National Parks.
“It would be a fitting tribute to his memory if the Scottish Government committed to more National Parks in 2014, the Year of Homecoming and the centenary of Muir’s death.”
The report argues that the designation of more national parks would bring about a wide range of environmental, social and economic benefits.
It concludes that more national parks would “bring additional resources to places which deserve them, strengthen Scotland’s international standing for environmental protection and support our crucial tourism industry.”
In 1945 the Borders was the focus of suggestions for national park designation, with St Mary’s Loch on a reserve list put forward by The Ramsey Report.