Rural Jobs (Nature Restoration)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 28th April 2022.

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Photo of Ariane Burgess Ariane Burgess Green

5. To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to support the creation of new rural jobs, including in nature restoration. (S6O-01010)

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

Scotland’s national strategy for economic transformation contains bold and ambitious actions to deliver economic prosperity for all Scotland’s people and places. We are committed to delivering good, secure and well-paid green jobs. Through the future and climate emergency skills action plans, and our continuing work via the action plan for nature-based skills, we are investing to ensure that people of all ages in our rural communities have the right skills to meet our current and future needs.

Photo of Ariane Burgess Ariane Burgess Green

According to modelling by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, nature restoration projects such as woodland creation, peatland restoration, and deer management could create almost 8,000 new jobs across Scotland, mostly in rural areas. On a local level, I welcome the Cairngorms National Park Authority’s new five-year draft plan to regenerate its native woodlands.

How will the Cairngorms national park plan contribute to the creation of green jobs within the park?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

I thank the member for the question and for her excitement about the green jobs that we will be creating in rural areas.

The Cairngorms national park partnership plan sets out a bold vision to restore nature in the park while tackling the climate emergency and building a wellbeing economy that works for all the people of the Cairngorms. That is driving investment and creating green jobs within the park. Initiatives contained in the plan include encouraging contractors to diversify into the programme of peatland restoration in the Cairngorms, which is expected to support seven new posts in the immediate future, and the heritage horizons programme, which is led by the park authority and which is expected to create 11 new jobs in woodland expansion and climate mitigation work.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

Given the great potential for nature recovery in Galloway, and the support of all parties and more than 30 candidates in the forthcoming local elections, how will the minister ensure that the process for the designation of national parks adequately reflects the huge amount of work that has already been done so effectively to make the case for Galloway to be Scotland’s third national park?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

I am very aware of how proud Galloway is of its natural heritage and how keen its people are to see Galloway become the next national park. Of course, many other parts of Scotland would also like to see a new national park or, as it says in the Bute house agreement, at least one new national park created.

Very shortly, we will bring forward the plans for the process to create that park and start the consultation on where it should be. I am very proud that the member has asked this question today.

Photo of Jenni Minto Jenni Minto Scottish National Party

How is the annual nature restoration fund delivering benefits for Scotland’s species, woodlands, rivers and seas, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of local communities?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

At the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—we announced a new £55 million multiyear commitment to the nature restoration fund, as part of a wider Scottish Government commitment to the investment of an additional £500 million in our natural economy over the course of the parliamentary session. This year, we are investing £13.5 million in nature restoration.

The fund is now supporting land-scale, multiyear, multipartner projects that will deliver transformative change to drive forward nature recovery across Scotland, including in the Cairngorms national park, which I have visited to see some of the schemes, and to create the security that is needed to support new green jobs, which will reinvigorate local communities and reinforce Scotland’s green recovery. The fund is focused on outcomes that will address the main drivers of the decline in biodiversity: overexploitation of the natural environment; habitat loss and fragmentation; and invasive non-native species, especially their effect on rural biodiversity.