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.
Rangers in Scotland achievements
The Ranger Development Partnership agreed that it is 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 2022, our second year of the new approach, is below, with aspects improving as we emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.
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
- North Ayrshire Council
- Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association
- Scottish Land and Estates
- Woodland Trust Scotland
With thanks to the 71 ranger services that reported in 2022
- Aberdeen City Council Countryside Ranger Service
- Aberdeen City Council Duthie Park Ranger Service
- Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service
- ANGUSalive Ranger Service (Glen Doll)
- Abernethy, Boat of Garten and Nethy Bridge Community Ranger
- Arran Geopark
- Arran Ranger Service
- Atholl Estates
- Balmoral Estate Ranger Service
- Cairngorms Connect
- Cairngorms National Park Authority Ranger Service
- Cloudberry Communities CIC - Safe and Welcoming Woodland Corridors
- Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park – Renfrewshire
- Dams to Darnley Ranger Service
- Dorenell Ranger Service
- Dundee City Council Countryside Ranger Service
- East Dunbartonshire and Mugdock Country Park
- East Lothian Countryside Ranger Service
- Fair Isle Ranger Service
- Falkirk Council
- Fife Coast and Countryside Trust
- Finlaystone Estate
- Forest Holidays
- Forestry and Land Scotland
- Foula Heritage Ranger Service
- Glasgow City Council
- Glen Tanar Charitable Trust Ranger Service
- Gleniffer Braes Country Park Ranger Service
- Glenlivet Estate
- Heart of Argyll Wildlife Organisation
- High Life Highland Countryside Ranger Service
- Highland Council Access Ranger Service
- Historic Environment Scotland Ranger Service
- Hoddom and Kinmount Estates
- Hopetoun Houser Ranger Service
- Hushwing Ranger Service
- Inverclyde Council Ranger Service
- Isle of Gigha Ranger Service
- Isle of Harris
- Jahama Highland Estates - Sustainable Tourism and Positive Visitor Experience
- John Muir Trust
- Kelburn Castle and Estate Ranger Team
- Kinlochleven Community Trust
- Knoydart Foundation
- Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority
- Maor-dùthcha na Hearadh / North Harris Ranger Service
- Mull and Iona Ranger Service
- National Trust for Scotland - Ben Lomond
- National Trust for Scotland - Glencoe
- National Trust for Scotland - Mar Lodge Estate
- National Trust for Scotland - Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray
- National Trust for Scotland – North East
- National Trust for Scotland - North Perthshire
- Nevis Landscape Partnership
- Newbattle Abbey College
- North Ayrshire Council Ranger Service
- Penicuik House Ranger Service
- Pentland Hills Ranger Service
- Perth & Kinross Council Visitor Rangers
- Seven Lochs Wetland Park (Glasgow City Council / North Lanarkshire Council)
- South Harris Visitor Wardens (Harris Voluntary Service)
- Southern Upland Way
- Stirling Council Ranger Service (Greenspace Rangers)
- Strathfillan Community Development Trust Seasonal Rangers
- Tiree Ranger Service/ Nàdair Thiriodh
- Water of Leith Conservation Trust
- West Dunbartonshire Countryside Ranger Service
- West Lothian Council Ranger Service
- Whitelee Countryside Ranger Service
Ranger Development Partnership Meeting - 30 March 2022
Key points and action points
- 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
- Alison to work up a draft way to present the National Reporting information, for RDP consideration
- 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
- Mark to find out from VisitScotland how they get their visitor numbers at the Scotland-wide level
- Mark to update when the cumulative impact guidance on visitor impact has been produced
- NatureScot and SCRA to consider whether a post RDP meeting brief note for wide circulation would be helpful.
- All, let Stephen know of new rangers starting so that he can promote on social media
- All, please tag SCRA in any of your most relevant Facebook and Instagram posts
- All, let Stephen know of key [Communication] dates or themes for SCRA to link with in 2022/2023
- Jim to provide any links to water safety training that can be added to the list of useful training for rangers
- Alison to consider how to make the training list available widely and more easily updated by others
- Alison to arrange drop-in sessions for the SOAC and Conflict Avoidance webinars early – mid June
- Alison to consider a list of recommended training for new seasonal rangers
- All send Alison/George a list of any forthcoming training that can be added to the list / circulated to SCRA members
- All, send George real scenarios that could be used in future mediation training
- All, send Alison a case study about how you got into rangering, to add into the ranger pathways paper.
- NatureScot and SCRA - to discuss the best way forward in terms of a funding and employment model for a Junior Ranger development role
- 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.
- 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.
- Alison - add Volunteers to the September 2022 RDP agenda for discussion.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
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.
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
Crown Estate Scotland
Action points from previous meeting 7 December 2021
- All – let Stephen know of new rangers starting so that he can promote on social media - ongoing
- All – let Stephen know of key [Communication] dates or themes for SCRA to link with in 2022 - ongoing
- George – to share the current list of examples of scenarios for the mediation training - discharged
- All – send George real scenarios that could be used in future mediation training - ongoing
- 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
- George – to circulate the headline figures on the state of ranger services in Scotland. - discharged
- Alison – to draft a pathways and progression in rangering infographic for input from RDP. Include freelance rangering as an option. - on agenda
- 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
- NatureScot and SCRA - to discuss the best way forward in terms of a funding and employment model for a Junior Ranger development role - ongoing
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Alison - add Volunteers to a future RDP agenda for discussion. - for discussion at September 2022 RDP meeting
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.
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.
Ranger Services Across Scotland 2021
You can find all the information on Ranger Services Across Scotland 2021 on this web page.
- Connecting people and places - a policy statement on rangering in Scotland
- Ranger Services Across Scotland
- Ranger Services in Scotland - The Achievements 'at a glance'
- Better Places Fund - Round 3 open for applications - December 2022
- Investment in nature reserves and rangers - March 2021
- Junior Rangers making their mark at Duthie Park - July 2019