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Case 09 - Cairngorms National Park management

Please read the OpenNESS case study booklet 'Ecosystem services in operation' for the final outcomes of the cases. More detailed information about the cases and the tools and methods used can be found on Oppla: www.oppla.eu

The Cairngorm National Park is Britain's largest national park (4,528 km²), located in the north of Scotland (Figure 1) and was established in 2003. It is the location for some of the most spectacular landscapes in Britain and is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife and plants. The OpenNESS team partnered with the newly created ‘Cairngorms Nature Strategy Group’ to consider the utility and operationalisation of the ecosystem service and natural capital concepts in relation to sustainable land management.

    Figure 1: Location and relief map of Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK showing the Cairngorms massif in the centre of the park.

  Relevance to other areas

The results of this case study are relevant to other mixed rural landscapes in Europe and beyond. The work is focused in a National Park and consequently the results might be relevant to other National Park managers.

  Case study objectives and specific OpenNESS tools to be tested

The main objective of this case is to enhance the management of the Cairngorm National Park. Four subprojects are ongoing which consider different actors and geographical scales within the park and all link to the objectives of the Cairngorms Nature Strategy Group which is also the OpenNESS case study Advisory Board (CAB).

  1. Recreation opportunity mapping

A study is being conducted to map recreational potential using ESTIMAP in the whole Cairngorms National Park. The analysis framework, stemmed from the “recreation” module of ESTIMAP (Paracchini et al., 2014, Zulian et al., 2013) has been downscaled and modified in order to fit the local needs. The recreation module is a two-step spatially explicit model. In the first part it provides an assessment of the potential supply for recreational activities, considering the main natural, cultural and social features, characteristics and infrastructures (Figure 2a); in the second part it implements the proximity to the main way of transport (from cycling-walking paths, to the road network) in order to estimate the connection with potential demand (Figure 2b).

The model uses a wide array of data sources including landscape wildness, land cover and nature access. The work is particularly relevant as the park managers are currently revising their recreational plan for the park. To date the model has been parameterised and was presented to the CAB. Download the presentation »

    Figure 2: Map highlighting the recreation potential of the Cairngorms National Park
  1. Management of Glenlivet Estate

Covering over 58,000 acres (23,500 ha), Glenlivet Estate comprises over 30 let farms, 8,500 acres (3,400 ha) of commercial forests and a sporting tenancies including grouse moors, salmon fishing and deer stalking. The objective of this sub-project is to determine potential land management options to maximise ecosystem services and natural capital based on land cover (Figure 3) – several approaches are being investigated including spreadsheet/GIS mapping of ecosystem services utilising UK land cover and Corine land cover in conjunction with Burkhard (2012) 0-5 potential score of ecosystem services associated with each Corine land cover type and initial presence and absence data for over 100 ecosystem services or proxies scored by local stakeholders.

    Figure 3: Map of Glenlivet Estate with sub-habitat land cover.

In addition the economic valuation of the estate is being addressed by estimating economic values associated with land cover. The capital value, estimated rental value and income to the estate were estimated by the land agent and estate forester for land cover detailed in Figure 2. The estate receives income from several sources and indeed the same land is rented to more than one tenant, so total economic value for the estate was calculated as illustrated in Figure 4. A preliminary draft map of economic income to the estate is provided in Figure 5. The latest results from this sub-project can be downloaded here »

    Figure 4: *Total value of estimated rental income for Glenlivet Estate is summed for land uses across land cover classes by three main tenants.
    Figure 5: Draft map of economic income to the Glenlivet Estate from farming, forestry and sporting – map is preliminary and subject to verification.
  1. Mitigation of Cryptosporidium in Tomnavoulin catchment

This sub-project is conducted in collaboration with the Crown Estate (owners of the Glenlivet Estate) and Moredun Research Institute and is based on establishing the environmental (water, livestock and wildlife) prevalence of Cryptosporidium species in selected catchment area(s) in the Cairngorms National Park and identifying actions and payment to enhance the ecosystem services of such landscapes. The project is focused on the Tomnavoulin catchment and involves testing the utility of a decision support tool: Bayesian Belief Network (BBN).

The Cryptosporidium parasite species C. parvum is a major cause of enteric disease in neonatal livestock. It is zoonotic and a major problem for the water industry. The oocyst stage of the parasite can survive for at least 2 years in water and can be a source of infection for susceptible individuals particularly the very young, elderly and immune compromised. In addition, normal water treatments such as chlorination are not effective against Cryptosporidium. The main aim of this research is to identify the source(s) of Cryptosporidium oocysts in the catchment using novel diagnostic tools developed at Moredun Research Institute allowing speciation and genotyping of the parasite. This work is funded through an EU project at the Moredun Research Institute called “Aquavalens”.

A chronosequence of samples from farmed livestock (cattle, calves, sheep and lambs) and wild mammals (red and roe deer) and water samples have been collected in the Tomnavoulin catchment by Moredun Research Institute in March, May and June 2014. These samples, in time, will allow the identification of source animals of C. parvum in the catchment. Participating farmers will benefit from the latest management and disease prevention advice, allowing them to reduce Cryptosporidium incidence in their livestock thereby improving animal health and welfare, benefitting production, food security, water quality and public health. Interventions within the catchment areas, such as fencing, riparian woodland and introduction of frost-free water troughs are planned and should improve the quality and safety of water supplies by minimizing contamination with zoonotic pathogens such as Cryptosporidium. There may also be added benefits due to the potential reduction of other zoonotic pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella as well as other livestock parasites such as liver fluke.

Meanwhile this data is being used in a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN). BBN provide a graphical method of linking information together using a probability measure, so it is clear what level of certainty we have about the results. The first phase of developing a BBN is to determine the structure and Figure 6 shows an initial BBN diagram for the Cryptosporidium issue at Tomnavoulin following discussions with colleague. We expect to refine and parameterise this during the course of the study in consultation with stakeholders.

    Figure 6: Draft Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN) to estimate the total cost of Cryptosporidium remediation.
  1. Tomintoul and Glenlivet Regeneration Strategy and Master Plan

This subproject is being conducted with a community group which aims to create a balanced approach to the management of landscape heritage at a landscape scale. The utility of the decision support software Quickscan was tested at a stakeholder meeting 7th Oct 2014.

  Science-practice interaction

The focus of the four sub-projects was suggested by members of the case study advisory board locally called the ‘Cairngorms Nature Strategy Group’. Members of the board have been closely involved in the selection of tools to be tested and in the provision of data.