Leading environmental charities have said that backing their plan for nature’s recovery could create up to 7,000 new jobs in Scotland.
RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland are calling for greater investment in nature-based jobs and skills – and said it could contribute to Scotland’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
The charities said new data makes clear that strong investment in nature’s recovery could, over time, create upwards of 4,000 jobs across peatland restoration, native woodland expansion, restoration and management, deer control, delivery of a Scottish Nature Network and a farming advisory service, while a further 3,000 jobs could be supported indirectly.
As the Scottish Parliament scrutinises the 2021-22 Scottish Budget, the three environmental charities say that all political parties in Scotland must use this opportunity to kickstart a transformative green recovery.
Jo Pike, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “Our findings demonstrate how taking these initial steps towards nature’s recovery can significantly benefit Scotland’s economy and society, as well as helping to tackle climate change.
“Importantly, many of the green collar jobs identified within this analysis could help to sustain rural communities.
“As the draft budget progresses through the Scottish Parliament we want to see ambitious commitments to delivering a wide range of nature-based solutions to the serious challenges facing society.
“Investing in measures such as the creation of native woodland and establishing a new Scottish Nature Network represents an opportunity to both tackle the growing crisis facing nature, and support a transformative green recovery from the impact of Covid-19.”
Last year, RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland launched a route map for nature’s recovery.
The charities said that delivering even a few of the actions outlined in the Nature Recovery Plan could create green jobs and support skills development, particularly in remote rural areas.
Anne McCall, Scotland director for the RSPB, said: “We know that we need transformative change for nature, but that this change can also help us to build a more diverse and resilient economy and provide widespread benefits to people.
“It is vital that the potential for nature jobs to contribute to Scotland’s economic recovery is not underestimated and undervalued.
“This is just a snapshot of job opportunities in five areas of nature’s recovery, demonstrating the potential we could unlock by placing nature at the heart of Scotland’s economy.”
The publication of the new data follows the launch last month of an independent report – The Economics of Biodiversity: the Dasgupta Review – which concluded that society has collectively failed to engage with nature sustainably.
The report calls for a transformation of economics to recognise the true importance of nature and invest in our natural assets to improve global resilience.
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said that nature restoration must be a vital part of the Scottish Government’s economic recovery measures.
He said: “Rural communities, particularly those dependent on hospitality and tourism income, have been hit hard this past year.”
He added: “Woodland creation and management, peatland restoration, and supporting farmers to benefit more nature, are relatively quick ways to create and support much needed long-term jobs in rural areas, whilst also contributing to a green recovery.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our commitment to tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is unwavering.
“We recently announced a £1.9 billion record capital investment for 2021-22, ensuring our recovery from Covid-19 is one that creates good quality, green jobs and ensures a fair and just transition to net-zero, leaving no-one behind.
“The natural economy is a vital asset in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, responding to climate change, ending biodiversity loss and creating the new, green employment opportunities of the future and we welcome this report.”