Making a Difference in Scotland's First National Park
Friends of OUR Park is an innovative visitor giving scheme that supports environmental and community projects in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and surrounding areas.
The scheme aims to enhance, conserve and increase the natural and recreational assets of the Park by encouraging voluntary donations of money or time by business and visitors in and around the National Park.
Introduced in 2009, the scheme gives visitors the opportunity to make donations through local businesses in the knowledge that any funding contributed goes directly into important wildlife, conservation, heritage, safety and outdoor recreation projects.
A ‘win win’ for both businesses and their customers, the Friends of OUR Park scheme is managed by Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs - the independent conservation and heritage charity for Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The scheme has supported a range of local initiatives including, as examples:
- Tom Weir statue and picnic area in Balmaha (benefitted local businesses including the Red Oak Inn, improved the area and encourages visitation, educates visitors)
- Improved park hiking trails. This includes Three Lochs Way, Rob Roy Way, South Loch Lomond and more. This is important because walking is hands down the most important activity in the NP with the bulk of visitors coming here for that reason. The scheme has helped with path work, signage, building bridges and general improvements/maintenance.
- Worked with schools and the NP rangers on implementing education programmes.
- Provided financial support to organisations who look after red squirrels and protect our native woodlands.
- Installation of public access defibrillators
- Assisted Loch Lomond Mountain Rescue with the purchase of a vehicle
At the heart of the scheme’s success is the commitment of business owners and individuals to become involved in a variety of ways, including through voluntary visitor donations such as £1 on bookings for overnight stays, meals or loch cruises or hosting donation canisters. The activities all contribute to supporting a wide range of projects for the benefit of people and nature in and around the National Park.
The scheme has expanded in recent years and now involves 100 businesses and tens of thousands of individuals making personal contributions to help look after and improve the area every year. Encouragingly, over £150,000 has now been raised to support local projects. Grant support through the scheme has ranged from £150 to £6,000 and has often been the catalyst to secure other funding to enable projects to happen on the ground.
Jared Bowers, Ecotourism Project Manager for Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, said: “This scheme is a great initiative that allows businesses and visitors to make a direct contribution to improving the natural and cultural assets of the area for now and into the future. As tourism businesses rely directly on these assets, it’s important for them to be involved in their protection and enhancement. Thank you to all those businesses that already support this important project.”
If your business or organisation would like to get involved in the scheme, please contact Jared Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Friends of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a charity organisation, which for the past 35 years, has had the principal aim of supporting the protection and promotion of the National Park. As a charity, it relies on donations from its supporters and partners.