Our Scottish Countryside Rangers are employed by over 60 different employers, including the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, Forestry Commission Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, national Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private land owners, local authorities and community groups.
Their work covers countryside and coast, enhancing and protecting the natural environment and cultural heritage of Scotland. They connect with land owners, managers and members of the public. They monitor wildlife and habitats and identify threats from wildlife crime and alien invasive species. Many are involved in outdoor education and lead school groups, creating opportunities for every age group to benefit from being outdoors.
Up until 2008, this national network of Countryside Rangers was supported by grant aid from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and its predecessor the Countryside Commission for Scotland. The Scottish Government transferred funding, in 2009, directly to local authorities for them to allocate. Whilst SNH continues to give grant support, as does the Cairngorms National Park Authority for services operating within the park, cuts in public expenditure has led to fewer Countryside Ranger posts and has had an adverse impact on the partnership working between Ranger Services.
Not only has the number of permanent posts fallen, but there has been a significant reduction in the number of seasonal posts. Almost all Local Authorities now have a substantially reduced service, with a few having no Ranger Service at all.
The Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association (SCRA) is concerned that cutbacks in public sector expenditure and the pressures on the remaining Rangers is putting at risk this national network. There are also significant implications for government policies in health, recreational access, biodiversity and visitor experience.
We are calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to implement the strategic framework for the network of Countryside Ranger Services set out in the document Rangers in Scotland (SNH 2008).
The framework sets out how the agreed approach to providing Ranger Services can be delivered in practice and the actions required.
If you value the unique contribution that Countryside Rangers make to delivering outdoor access, biodiversity, outdoor learning and the health and well-being of the people of Scotland and our visitors, please sign our petition and leave a message of support.