Insh Marshes RSPB reserve, Loch Insh, 2000

The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms

The wider Cairngorms Futurescape contains the Badenoch & Strathspey and Caledonian Pinewood Futurescapes. Together, these encompass the whole of the Cairngorms – some 4583 square kilometres.

The lower altitude Badenoch & Strathspey is a semi-natural floodplain, with the Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve at its heart. Cattle and sheep graze the wet grassland – which is one of the UK’s most important sites for breeding waders. This floodplain also benefits flood management and water purification.

The Cairngorms is a high mountain plateau surrounded by Caledonian pinewood. Just one per cent of the original Caledonian pinewood forest remains, with more than half of this located in the Cairngorms.

The pinewoods are a vital part of the Cairngorms, delivering economic benefits through timber production, shelter for domestic and wild animals and leisure activities and tourism.


PDF, 1.28Mb.  Date: 5 September 2014

Futurescapes - Badenoch and Strathspey

PDF, 1.16Mb. Date: 14 October 2013

Futurescapes - Caledonian Forest

Explore the area

Find out what’s going on near this Futurescape, including places to visit, news and local events, plus how you can work or volunteer for us.

Mountain top with stone pile, ptarmigan habitat, Corre Cas, Cairngorm, Highlands, Scotland.
Snow on the Cairngorms, RSPB Reserve

Nearby reserves

Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:


Crannach is a tranquil woodland site. The habitat supports priority species such as black grouse, Scottish crossbill and a range of other woodland birds.

Insh Marshes

Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve is one of the most important wetlands in Europe. Enjoy a springtime stroll and look out for nesting lapwings, redshanks and curlews, or visit in the wintertime when the marsh floods.

Loch Garten, Abernethy

When ospreys returned to breed in Scotland, this ancient Caledonian pinewood is where they chose to come. The Loch Garten Osprey Centre boasts fantastic views of these magnificent birds on the nest, as well as close up views thanks to our non-invasive CCTV camera.

Loch Garten RSPB reserve. Speyside, Scotland. August 2007.
Loch Garten, Abernethy
 Insh Marshes RSPB reserve, Loch Insh, 2000
Insh Marshes

Defending the Nature Directives

For the past 30 years, the EU Nature Directives have provided the highest level of protection for the Cairngorms.

But European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising these vital laws in the mistaken belief that weaker protection for wildlife is good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business and a disaster for wildlife.

Without them, the needs of nature and people in the Cairngorms would soon come into conflict.

The Directives play a vital role in ensuring much-needed housing in the area can be delivered without harming vital nesting grounds, such as those used by the capercaillie.

When deciding whether to approve housing applications, in-depth information on capercaillie numbers and distribution and a rigorous assessment of how new houses may affect these rare birds must be undertaken. 

Any weakening of the Directives would instantly put the future of the capercaillie and the Cairngorms at risk.

Visit our Defend Nature page to find the latest information on our campaign to prevent these laws from being weakened.

Red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus, adult male in early morning sun. Cairngorm. Scotland.
Bird in Cairngorms

Our partners

Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in the Cairngorms. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with: