Ranger Services in Scotland

Our vision for Scotland’s rangers, which we published in 2021, recognises that they are well placed to deliver a greener and healthier Scotland.

Connecting people and places

Rangers have long-established and key roles in helping people to understand, engage with and safeguard the natural and historic environment in places that people come to enjoy. Many rangers also work closely with disadvantaged groups and local communities, supporting key agendas such as tackling inequalities and community empowerment. These roles make rangering more relevant than ever, supporting important Government objectives for health and well-being, learning, tourism and inclusive economic growth. In helping to look after nature and connect more people with it, rangering also makes an important contribution to the action now required to address biodiversity loss and the climate emergency.  Find out more at Connecting people and places - a policy statement on rangering in Scotland.

Rangers in Scotland

Achievements

The Ranger Development Partnership agreed that it essential to collect information on ranger service activity across Scotland. This is to demonstrate the importance of the work of ranger services.  The information from 2021, our first year of the new approach, is below though it must be noted that many aspects of working with the public were limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ranger Services Across Scotland 2021

During 2021 visits to the outdoors were high and people connected with nature both in local greenspaces and further afield. Many UK residents took their holidays in Scotland.

Data from the 52 ranger services who reported this year shows that:

  • 19 million in-person visits to sites managed by ranger services
  • 6 million hits to ranger service online information
  • 17,000 people attended an educational activity outdoors in nature with a ranger service, from nursery to university level
  • 43 Junior Rangers (age 11-18) were positively involved with the work of the ranger services
  • 3,000 people volunteers with the ranger services, taking action for nature and benefitting their mental and physical health
  • 9,000 people attended events and activities led by ranger services
  • 1,000 community groups, partnerships and other organisations were supported by ranger services to deliver action for nature and people
  • Ranger services led and undertook a range of activity to protect and restore nature.

Ranger Achievements Infographic 2021

 

    Last updated:

    List of the Ranger Development Partnership members

    • Cairngorms National Park Authority
    • Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
    • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
    • Crown Estate Scotland
    • Forestry and Land Scotland
    • Highland Council
    • Historic Environment Scotland
    • Hopetoun House Preservation Trust
    • John Muir Trust
    • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority
    • National Trust for Scotland
    • NatureScot
    • North Ayrshire Council
    • Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association
    • Scottish Land and Estates
    • Woodland Trust Scotland

    With thanks to the 52 ranger services that reported in 2021

    • Aberdeen City Ranger Service
    • Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service
    • Atholl Estate
    • Balmoral Estate
    • Cairngorms Connect Community Ranger
    • Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
    • Cairngorms National Park Authority Ranger Service
    • Dorenell Wind Farm Ranger Service
    • Duthie Park Ranger Service, Aberdeen
    • East Lothian Council
    • Forestry & Land Scotland
    • Forestry & Land Scotland – Strathspey and Inverness Beats
    • Forestry & Land Scotland - Inverness Beat
    • Fair Isle
    • Finlaystone
    • Foula Heritage Ranger Service
    • Freelance Ranger
    • Glen Tanar
    • Gleniffer Braes Country Park
    • Glenlivet Estate (Crown Estate Scotland)
    • Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation
    • HES Ranger Services
    • High Life Highland
    • Highland Council Access Rangers
    • Hoddom and Kinmount Estates
    • Hopetoun House Ranger Service
    • Inverclyde Ranger Service
    • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority
    • Loch Doon Ranger Service
    • Mull and Iona Ranger Service
    • North Harris Ranger Service
    • National Trust for Scotland – North East of Scotland
    • National Trust for Scotland – North Perthshire Properties
    • National Trust for Scotland - Ben Lomond
    • National Trust for Scotland - Culloden Battlefield
    • National Trust for Scotland - Isles of Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray
    • National Trust for Scotland - Torridon
    • Penicuik House Ranger Service
    • Perth and Kinross Council Community Greenspace Ranger Service
    • Rothiemurchus
    • Rouken Glen Park
    • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - Abernethy
    • Scottish Borders Council Ranger Service
    • South Ayrshire Council
    • Southern Upland Way
    • Strathyre Forest Holidays
    • The Highland Council
    • Tiree Ranger Service
    • Water of Leith Conservation Trust
    • Whitelee Countryside Ranger Service
    • Woodland Trust – Ben Shieldaig
    • Woodland Trust Ranger Service – Glen Finglas

    Ranger Development Partnership Meeting - 30 March 2022

    Key points and action points

    Attending

    • Alison Matheson, NatureScot
    • Mark Wrightham, NatureScot
    • Pete Rawcliffe, NatureScot
    • George Potts, SCRA
    • Amanda Downie, North Ayrshire Council
    • James Downie, LLTNPA
    • Fiona Carswell, Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
    • Emma Parker, Hopetoun House Preservation Trust
    • Stephen Reeves, Dorenell Access Ranger, EDF Renewables
    • Sarah McNeill, JMT
    • Gwen Raes, Woodland Trust Scotland
    • Phil Waite, Highland Council
    • Kate Elliot, SCRA

    Apologies/Not Attending But Have Been Sent Papers

    • Mark Johnston, Crown Estate Scotland
    • Robert Nicol, COSLA
    • Will Boyd-Wallis, National Trust for Scotland
    • Jason Rust, SL&E
    • Tim Hall, Woodland Trust Scotland
    • Simon Ovenden, Scottish Land and Estates
    • Lucy Ford, Cairngorms National Park Authority
    • Malcolm Duce, SG
    • Piers de Salis, Hopetoun House Preservation Trust
    • Elizabeth Tindal, Freelance Ranger
    • Alan Brown, Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
    • Lucy Hadley, F&LS
    • Martin Gray, Historic Environment Scotland
    • Richard Williams, JMT
    • Leigh Hamilton, LLTNPA
    • Lesley Forsyth, North Ayrshire Council

    Action Points

    1. Alison to work up a draft way to present the National Reporting information, for RDP consideration
    2. RDP members to provide comments on how they think the National Reporting survey should be amended to make it easier for them to complete with 2022 information
    3. Mark to find out from VisitScotland how they get their visitor numbers at the Scotland-wide level
    4. Mark to update when the cumulative impact guidance on visitor impact has been produced
    5. NatureScot and SCRA to consider whether a post RDP meeting brief note for wide circulation would be helpful.
    6. All, let Stephen know of new rangers starting so that he can promote on social media
    7. All, please tag SCRA in any of your most relevant Facebook and Instagram posts
    8. All, let Stephen know of key [Communication] dates or themes for SCRA to link with in 2022/2023
    9. Jim to provide any links to water safety training that can be added to the list of useful training for rangers
    10. Alison to consider how to make the training list available widely and more easily updated by others
    11. Alison to arrange drop-in sessions for the SOAC and Conflict Avoidance webinars early – mid June
    12. Alison to consider a list of recommended training for new seasonal rangers
    13. All send Alison/George a list of any forthcoming training that can be added to the list / circulated to SCRA members
    14. All, send George real scenarios that could be used in future mediation training
    15. All, send Alison a case study about how you got into rangering, to add into the ranger pathways paper.
    16. NatureScot and SCRA - to discuss the best way forward in terms of a funding and employment model for a Junior Ranger development role
    17. All – let Alison know of any engagement with supporting the young workforce schemes so that we can learn from what each other is doing and develop this area of work.
    18. George – to update if the RDP have been letting SCRA know if they become aware of a post being advertised containing the word ranger but not reflecting the wide duties of a ranger, as George may discuss this with the employing organisation.
    19. Alison - add Volunteers to the September 2022 RDP agenda for discussion.
    20. Mark/Pete to let the Visitor Management Strategy group know that recruitment of seasonal rangers to hotspot areas can be difficult because of a lack of affordable housing in these areas.
    21. Alison to circulate information to RDP members about Green Health Week in the hope they can get involved

    Welcome and introductions

    George welcomed Phil Waite from Highland Council to the meeting, outlining the role of the RDP.  Will Boyd-Wallis is the new NTS representative replacing Michael Terwey.

    Visitor management strategy for Scotland update

    Better Places Fund 3

    Pete updated the RDP that Better Places Green Recover Fund 3 is now open. The funding is for 2022 not beyond.  Some Scottish Government organisations have received funding over and above BPF3 for visitor management during 2022.

    Beyond BPF3 there is a SG spending review coming up so there is a need to ensure that ranger funding is discussed during that process.

    The Visitor Management Strategy steering group remain active and engaged with the Cabinet Secretary, Kate Forbes, regarding visitor management for the immediate term and longer term, the latter through strategic plans.

    SOAC

    The Scottish Outdoor Access Code Education Resources redesign is well underway.

    The  original pdf packs that are on the NatureScot  web site are being updated and presented in the style of a ‘SWAY’ with word documents embedded within it and links to further resources – this allows teachers (and leaders)  to make best use of this in the classroom and gives us the flexibility to add, update and amend. The work is making good use of the SOAC images from 2021as well as the SOAC branding.

    Teachers, Rangers and others have been asked to input and NatureScot hopes to launch this in the Spring and Summer terms 2022.  For more information or to help with promotion please contact [email protected]  (works on this on Thursdays and Fridays.)

    There is an evaluation of the 2021 SOAC campaign being carried out to guide 2022 SOAC campaign priorities, along with behavioural research to better understand the attitudes and motivations of irresponsible campers.  The 2022 SOAC campaign has begun and is currently focusing on general Code messages for new outdoor users and on access with dogs (because it is lambing time).  Camping will be covered later.

    Other Policy Work

    Pete advised RDP members to engage, by promoting the value of rangers, with the consultation on the new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy (consultation draft due in May 2022)

    Ranger Services should also be aware of the Feb 2022 publication from  Education Scotland Successful approaches to learning outdoors and rangers are mentioned in one of the case studies (p21)

    National Reporting 2021

    Alison introduced the paper outlining which ranger services reported and seeking a view on whether we ask more ranger services to contribute, or, we promote what we have with a view to repeating the survey in 2022.  It was agreed to promote what we have.  A review of the survey will also be carried out as some RDP members found it too numerical to complete satisfactorily (because the requested information is not available eg visitor numbers, or because the numerical numbers would be too low to provide externally - due to lack of a way to count the numbers properly).

    On the comments in the survey for the RDP

    1. about SOAC, Mark advised that the NAF will be considering the scope for messaging at a local level to address the cumulative impacts of camping.
    2. about not knowing that the RDP is/does – NatureScot and SCRA to consider whether a brief post-meeting note for wide circulation might be helpful.

    AP – Alison to work up a draft way to present the information for RDP consideration
    AP – RDP members to provide comment on how they think the survey should be amended to make it easier for them to complete with 2022 information
    AP – Mark to find out from VisitScotland how they get their visitor numbers at the Scotland-wide level
    AP – Mark to update when the cumulative impact guidance has been produced
    AP – NatureScot and SCRA to consider whether a post RDP meeting brief note for wide circulation would be helpful.

     

    Communication

    Stephan advised that the SCRA facebook page is going well though less engagement regarding takeovers than previously.  The SCRA facebook post on International Women’s Day was extremely successful due to collective engagement and sharing across a number of ranger services.

    AP – RDP members, please tag SCRA in any of your most relevant facebook and Instagram posts
    AP – RDP members please let Stephen know when new rangers start in post

    Training

    The paper with the training opportunities listed was considered to be helpful and would be useful to have available externally – Kate suggested that a Miro Board might be useful for this.  Water Safety is missing and Jim will consider if there is any information that can be added.

    On the SOAC and Conflict Avoidance webinars, it was felt that asking people to watch the webinar recordings from last year and then offering a 1 hour drop-in session over MS Teams to ask questions of the original speakers, would be useful.  Early-mid June when the BPF3 seasonal are starting is the best time for this.  A list of recommended training for new seasonal rangers would be helpful – a shortened list of the paper.

     

    AP – Jim to provide any links to water safety training that can be added. 
    AP – Alison to consider how to make the training list available widely and more easily updated by others
    AP – Alison to arrange drop-in sessions for the SOAC and Conflict Avoidance webinars early – mid June
    AP – Alison to consider a list of recommended training for new seasonal rangers
    AP – All, send Alison a list of any forthcoming training that can be added to the list
    AP- All, send George further mediation examples for the SCRA mediation course

    Youth employment and skills

    Ranger pathways paper

    It was felt that this paper is useful and would benefit from some case studies to reflect the diverse range of journeys to becoming a ranger/a rangering type role.  LLTNPA has a ‘No straight path’

    AP – All, send Alison a case study about how you got into rangering, to add into the ranger pathways paper.

    LLTNPA advised that in September 2022 they are taking on 2 modern apprenticeships aligned with SRUC.  North Ayrshire Council are recruiting a Rural Skills modern apprentice that will work with the ranger service.  Clyde Muirshiel are involving young people on the Kickstart scheme with the work of the ranger service.

    NatureScot is working with the UHI again in 2022 to offer 2 paid placements when the finish their course in June 2022.  Phil is looking into this also.

    Lack of a driving licence is a barrier to young people entering this area of work.  In the past some local authorities offered driving schools to priority young people.

    George appealed to RDP members to give young people a good chance when recruiting posts as succession and positive pathways are critical.

    Junior Rangers

    Funding has now been secured – thank you to all contributors - as shown below and Alison and George will discuss the best way to progress the Junior Ranger development post within this budget for 22-23 (employed post or contract).

    £ for 22-23

    Organisation

    Contact

    2.5k

    F&LS

    Lucy Hadley

    7k

    NatureScot

    Alison Matheson

    5k

    HES

    Martin Gray

    1k

    Crown Estate Scotland

    Mark Johnston

    1k

    CNPA

    Alan Smith

    1k

    LLTNPA

    Jim Downie

     

    Action points from previous meeting 7 December 2021

    1. All – let Stephen know of new rangers starting so that he can promote on social media - ongoing
    2. All – let Stephen know of key [Communication] dates or themes for SCRA to link with in 2022 - ongoing
    3. George – to share the current list of examples of scenarios for the mediation training - discharged
    4. All – send George real scenarios that could be used in future mediation training - ongoing
    5. All – send Alison (for circulation to RDP) and George (for circulation to SCRA) any ranger training opportunities that can be made available to others. - more sought
    6. George – to circulate the headline figures on the state of ranger services in Scotland. - discharged
    7. Alison – to draft a pathways and progression in rangering infographic for input from RDP.  Include freelance rangering as an option. - on agenda
    8. All – let Alison know by 14 Dec ’21 if interested in discussing with University of Highlands and Islands about offering a summer 2022 placement to one of the UHI ranger trainees. - date past - no interest
    9. NatureScot and SCRA - to discuss the best way forward in terms of a funding and employment model for a Junior Ranger development role - ongoing
    10. All – let Alison know of any engagement with supporting the young workforce schemes so that we can learn from what each other is doing and develop this area of work. - ongoing
    11. George – to update if the RDP have been letting SCRA know if they become aware of a post being advertised containing the word ranger but not reflecting the wide duties of a ranger, as George may discuss this with the employing organisation. - ongoing
    12. George – to recirculate the SCRA volunteering strategy and RDP members to send George any comments they may have.- for discussion at September 2022 RDP meeting
    13. Alison - add Volunteers to a future RDP agenda for discussion. - for discussion at September 2022 RDP meeting

    AOB

    The next SCRAmble will look at Country Parks, Regional Parks and National Parks.  Contributions from RDP members would be very welcome by end July 2022.  Contact Emma Parker for more information. 

    There was a request made to NatureScot and others to remember the funding needs of Country and Regional Parks as plans for new National Parks are developed. SCRA will respond to the consultation on a new National Park when it goes live.

    A number of ranger services are finding it difficult to recruit satisfactory seasonal rangers with many applicants not meeting the job criteria.  There are also many seasonal rangering roles available.

    A request was made for NatureScot to let the Visitor Management Strategy steering group know that recruitment of seasonal rangers to hotspot areas can be difficult because of a lack of affordable housing in these areas.

    AP Mark/Pete

    Green Health Week

    AP Alison to circulate information to RDP members about Green Health Week in the hope they can get involved

    Date of Next Meeting

    Tuesday 13 Sept 2022 10-12 to include discussion on SCRA volunteer policy and volunteering.