Nature-based employment in Scotland will be a key growth region, says NatureScot.



Francesca Osowska of NatureScot claims that the massive increase in green employment is a result of a change in mindset that will help the environment as well as the economy.

Dominic Ryan by
Who would have thought that the year that brought our world so much harm in the form of a global crisis and a pandemic would also offer the promise of a powerhouse for green jobs? And yet, that is precisely what Francesca Osowska expects for the future of Scotland.

The NatureScot executive director points out that for some time, nature-based jobs have actually been a booming industry.

“As an organization, we’ve done an audit of these types of jobs, which include land management, peatland restoration, surveying, working on nature in our towns and cities, and all green infrastructure,” she says.

“What this has shown is that in terms of employment, the nature-based sector has grown more than five times faster than all jobs in Scotland between 2015 and 2019 and accounts for a third of all job growth in Scotland. With at least 195,000 jobs, this has been and will continue to be a real growth area.”

Francesca states that while we have classic photos of people working in a wild and unsettled environment, there is a clear urban aspect to green hiring, with 83 percent of the population of Scotland living in cities.

“We’ve done research that shows our cities are incredibly green – in fact, 54 percent would be considered green, not gray. Having those green spaces is really important.”

Nature-based jobs is equally significant, helping to achieve Scotland’s net-zero carbon goals for 2045 on many fronts.

We need to invest in areas that provide multiple advantages in order to resolve the challenges we have in nature and rebuild from Covid-19,”To address the challenges we have in nature, and to rebuild from Covid-19, we need to invest in areas that offer multiple benefits,”

It’s not just about doing one or the other anymore. It’s about doing absolutely everything we can.

“That means focusing on economic growth, addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, and continually seeking nature-based solutions – such as with urban greening, green infrastructure and peatland restoration – that deliver multiple benefits.”

Progress has increased in many areas, with a five-fold rise in peatland regeneration, a near doubling of tree planting led by Forestry and Land Scotand and Scottish Forestry, and additional investments in Woodland and Peatland Carbon Codes, thanks to NatureScot’s work with its partners and vital support from the Scottish Government.

There are, of course, many other sectors in Scotland that depend heavily on our rich natural resources, such as tourism and the food and drink industry, in addition to the conservation and management of peatlands. This makes it vital across the board to attract green workers.

“When we think about the potential in our rural and island economies, especially where economies are more vulnerable, nature-based jobs can have a huge transformative impact,” says Francesca.

What we’ve noticed in our studies is that rural and island economies, where most nature-based jobs are located, have great potential. Research by NatureScot found that nearly one-third (30.2%) of new nature-based employment could be in islands and remote areas, and 62.2% in predominantly rural areas, providing possible solutions to the challenges of working-age depopulation and migration.

“The remaining jobs will be in urban areas,” Francesca says, “so the boom in green jobs will really be felt across Scotland.”

Although this represents the positive effect that green employment could have on the wider Scottish economy, Francesca stresses that we urgently need to concentrate as a nation on what a coalition of organizations and corporations needs to do in order to fully realize this opportunity.

That’s why, in the new nature-based workforce, NatureScot has been looking at skills shortages and gaps. The resulting Jobs and Skills Study, just released, is the start of a global, coordinated approach to securing the nature-based industry’s employment potential that is unprecedented in the world.


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