A PLAN for nature's recovery in Scotland could create up to 7,000 new jobs, contributing to Scotland's economic recovery from Covid-19, new research has said.

RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland are calling for greater investment in nature-based jobs and skills – and said it would create jobs, boost local economies and improve public health while protecting the planet.

They sayt hat strong investment in green intitiatives 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. A further 3,000 jobs could be supported indirectly.

The Scottish Parliament is currently scrutinising the 2021-22 Scottish budget and the three environmental charities say that all political parties in Scotland must use this opportunity to kickstart a transformative green recovery and want to see greater investment in nature-based jobs and skills.

HeraldScotland:

Last year, RSPB Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland launched a route map for nature’s recovery across Scotland and called for five areas of the plan to be prioritised as part of Scotland’s green recovery.

New analysis shows that implementing key aspects of the programme would deliver thousands of high-quality, sustainable jobs.

The groups say they figures highlight how delivery of 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.

"Beyond this, the potential for the nature sector could be huge with the right level of ambition and investment," they say.

"Despite the enormous challenges currently faced by people around the world, ecological and climate breakdown still threatens our planet, risking further large-scale disruption and displacement of jobs and livelihoods in the future. Globally, nature is eroding at a rate never seen before in human history and one in nine species is threatened with extinction from Scotland," they said.

The environmental charities hope that the data published today help to demonstrate some first steps towards this achieving this transformative change in Scotland.

Anne McCall, director of Scotland 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”.

HeraldScotland: Money will go to restore ancient woodlands (Paul Moody/Woodland Trust/PA)

The groups believe the restoring and protecting Scotland’s peatlands could create 770 direct and up to 770 indirect jobs over the next 10 years. Achieving net zero emissions by 2045 will not be possible without drastically upscaling peatland restoration.

And restoring and expanding Scotland’s native woodlands, which are in decline, could create 1800- 2000 direct jobs per year for the next ten years, and potentially a further 1800-2000 indirect jobs annually.

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.”

The groups say that cntrolling deer numbers to the levels needed to meet Scotland’s targets for peatland restoration and woodland creation could create an additional 670 direct jobs and a further 600 jobs in the supply chain and through game processing.

And they say that delivering a Scottish Nature Network would create a strategic framework for protecting and restoring nature across Scotland. This would improve access to nature for people as well as requiring a workforce of at least 100 across Scotland’s 32 local authorities with 214 further direct jobs in habitat restoration.

Lang Banks, Director of WWF Scotland, said: “Rural communities, particularly those dependent on hospitality and tourism income, have been hit hard this past year. As the Scottish Government rolls its economic recovery measures nature restoration must be a vital part of them. 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.”