200 seasonal countryside rangers and operations staff posts will be created in Scotland to support sustainable and responsible rural tourism.
The countryside rangers posts will be supported by direct funding of £1.5million from the Scottish Government to NatureScot, National Parks, Forestry and Land Scotland.
Local authorities, community organisations and third sector organisations can apply for grants, which will be administered through NatureScot’s Better Places Fund Round 3.
The ‘Boots on the ground’ scheme will provide support for the employment of seasonal rangers and visitor operations posts to engage with the public and help manage visitor numbers, pressures and behaviours during the coming 2022 season.
Tourism Minister in the Scottish Government Ivan McKee said:
“Scotland’s breath taking natural scenery and rich historical sites rightly attract many visitors and help local economies but we know that this success is often tempered by increased pressure on communities, services, transport and facilities – particularly in rural areas.
“It is crucial that increasing demand at some of our most iconic rural and natural attractions is managed in a sustainable and responsible way to protect Scotland’s scenery and reduce pressure on local communities.
“The rangers and operations staff will support visitors to find suitable parking and necessary facilities while ensuring adherence to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This will allow for a better experience for tourists as well as the communities who experience the challenges that large visitor numbers can bring.
As well as improving the visitor experience the rangers will help tackle issues such as littering, antisocial behaviour and public toileting in rural tourism hotspots through patrols, liaising with local communities, landowners and police.
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot’s Chief Executive said:
“Our review shows how successful investing in rangers has been to adapt to the huge increase in visits to Scotland’s outdoors during the Covid 19 pandemic.
“By supporting an extra 127 rangers and seasonal staff to help people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, the Better Places Fund has made a real difference, not just for visitors and local communities, but crucially for nature too.
“We expect large numbers of people to visit Scotland’s outdoors again in 2022 and so it is great news that support will continue with this further commitment from the Scottish Government.
“Investing in visitor management and connecting people with nature is key to our continued green recovery post-pandemic – providing green jobs, protecting the environment and helping to tackle climate change.”
Closing date for applications – 22nd April. All those with successful applications will be ready to start this summer, June 2022.