Associate Feature: More funding is needed to protect Scotland’s countryside
Scotland’s national network of Countryside Ranger Services received a welcome boost in 2021 with the funding of many new seasonal posts but a strong commitment to further investment in this sector will pay dividends for decades to come.
The new posts were appointed to help tackle the visitor management issues the country has experienced. The Green Recovery - Better Places funding stream came at a time when two policy statements made similar cases for investment following many years of decline.
The first, “Connecting people and places - a policy statement on Rangering in Scotland” was initiated by the Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association (SCRA) in partnership with NatureScot, securing recognition at a national level of the important role Countryside Rangers play in supporting many key government objectives.
The second, led by VisitScotland, sought “to develop a Scotland wide strategic and co-ordinated approach to visitor management....” This includes a priority “to review and enhance current provision and funding for the rangering workforce...”
Both policies aspire to be 2030 visions.
The 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections saw specific mention of “more rangers” in each of the mainstream party manifestos.
While the seasonal ranger appointments go some way to fulfilling these pledges, they do not deliver a 2030 vision and a more sustainable funding model needs to be established to achieve that outcome.
As Scotland hosts the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, we must also recognise the importance of engaging our younger generations.
Many young people are already invested in the actions needed to address our global issues but would benefit greatly from both a local focus and tangible, practical opportunities to exercise these.
SCRA argues that sufficiently funded and resourced ranger services are ideally placed to allow the energy, enthusiasm and determination of Scotland’s young people to be usefully expressed. The 2030 visions for Scotland’s rangers were a welcome first step.
When looking to the future however, there is now a compelling case to consider longer term investment.
George Potts is chair of the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association
This article was sponsored by the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association