Associate feature: crisis in our countryside
Scotland’s national network of Countryside Rangers and allied professionals are uniquely placed to help address the challenges posed by the environmental and social changes sweeping the country and impacting on our wildlife.
This network, led by the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association (SCRA), works in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, COSLA and major employers to promote professional standards, disseminate best practice and aims to ensure a consistent approach to address issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
With an important front line role, Rangers provide not only a vital interface between the public and the countryside they visit, but also manage wildlife sites from our coastline to the mountain tops.
Rangers are really struggling to maintain a semblance of a national network"
However, this sector faces major challenges of its own with the loss of over 140 posts (35 per cent) in recent years. Of these losses, over half were in Local Authorities.
The loss of posts continues and the result is Rangers are really struggling to maintain a semblance of a national network. This is significant at a time when many more people are choosing to holiday at home putting huge pressures onto popular places across Scotland.
Equally significant are new management structures often with little or no experience of Ranger Service delivery, who are failing to recognise this bigger picture and the added value of both the national network and national identity.
SCRA made representations to the Scottish Government and gained support towards revising a national strategy for Rangers in Scotland. While this will provide a focus for monitoring Ranger numbers and reporting on their contribution to our national priorities, the need for a new sustainable funding model to be implemented remains. This is essential to replace the previous funding models for Ranger Services managed by SNH and by Local Authorities to help secure the future of the profession.
SCRA believes the contribution its members can make to protecting our environment is worthy of a due priority and continues to lobby for support to secure it.
This piece was sponsored by the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association