THIS week's community column comes from Kenny Auld, head of visitor services at the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

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AT the end of this month, the eyes of the world will be on Scotland as the COP26 conference takes place in Glasgow to discuss the Global Climate Emergency.

Here in Scotland’s first National Park, climate and nature are embedded in everything we do. We are committed as an organisation to reach net zero by 2030 and also have a crucial role to play in Scotland’s journey to become a Net Zero Nation.

The impacts of climate change are already being seen and felt by those who live, work and visit here – flooding and road closures due to landslides being the most obvious examples, of which readers of the Advertiser will be only too well aware.

However, the National Park is also ideally positioned to trial innovative and collaborative initiatives on topics like sustainable travel – and this will be an important focus for us in the years to come.

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The National Park covers a total area of 720 square miles so how our staff and visitors travel around the park is significant when it comes to reducing emissions and tackling the climate emergency.

An estimated seven million visitor trips are made to the National Park every year, with 85 per cent of those estimated to be by car.

As well as contributing significantly to carbon emissions, the increasing number of vehicles is having an impact on roads, local communities and the visitor experience.

We are developing a programme of measures to make it easier to travel to and within the National Park in a climate-friendly way. We recently launched the trial of a new National Park Journey Planner app, which allows visitors to access information on travel options more easily and encourages them to use public transport and cycling where practical. Visitors can also use the app to check and compare the carbon impacts of different modes of travel.

While not all parts of the National Park can currently be reached by public transport, there are alternatives to car travel for some of the most popular areas. This pilot will also be used to gather valuable feedback and data on the demand for more transport services, to inform longer term planning on sustainable travel.