A CONSERVATION charity is appealing to Scotland’s seaside communities to help fulfil “the dream” of having a coastal and marine national park.

Scotland only has two national parks – in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – but the Scottish Government has pledged to create at least one before the next Holyrood election in 2026.

Now the Blue Marine Foundation is calling on coastal communities to consider whether their area should be granted the special status.

Joe Richards, the charity’s Scotland project manager said: “Scotland has almost a 10th of all Europe’s coastline, including some extraordinary natural beauty and so many of our most iconic places are where the sea meets the land.

“However, the dream of a coastal and marine National Park for Scotland has long gone unfulfilled. It’s time for that to change.”

READ MORE: BBC faces criticism for writing off Scotland in Rugby World Cup

The Scottish Government is currently accepting pre-registrations from community groups who might make a formal bid when nominations open this autumn.

Richards called for those in coastal communities “who already have a vision for how their coastline and seascape can be protected and enhanced” to contact the foundation.

He said: “The most important thing to know is that the process will be very straightforward. It will be about how good your idea is, not how glossy your application looks.”

Nikki Sinclair, of the Scottish Campaign for National Parks, said Scotland is an “outlier” in only having two national parks. She added: “As well as bringing environmental protection, designation can bring additional resources and significant social and economic benefits to places which richly deserve it.”

READ MORE: Organisers say momentum is back after Edinburgh independence rally

Cal Major, an ambassador for the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Scotland’s coastlines and seas are beautiful, environmentally rich places that we must conserve, especially in the face of climate and biodiversity crises. We’re convinced there’s a strong case to consider a coastal and marine national park.

“Unlike England and Wales, Scotland does not yet have a marine and coastal national park. With the Scottish Government’s commitment to create at least one new national park, communities now have a chance to change that.

“The National Trust for Scotland will not take forward our own bid but we will support communities in the places we care for, including coastal communities, that submit their own bids. We encourage communities to register their interest.”