ScotWays (The Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society) gave qualified support to today’s announcement that Scottish Government Ministers have allocated up to £1.5 million for a third instalment of the Better Places Fund for seasonal posts to help manage recent vastly increased pressure on Scotland’s countryside.
ScotWays, with other bodies concerned for quality public access to Scotland’s countryside, wants to see more sustained funding to ensure effective long-term management.
Richard Barron, Chief Operations Officer, explains: “Of course we welcome the news of a further round of funding for ranger posts for the coming summer season. Access managers in heavily-pressured areas urgently need more resources to help put more bodies on the ground to advise and educate visitors and to promote responsible use of the land. But we also need more support for access staff in local authorities who protect our exceptional access rights; that capacity has been steadily running down over recent years.
“Both of those are vital if we’re to continue to achieve the benefits of healthy exercise for the widest possible range of users and the economic benefits for rural communities, along with the least possible conflict with farmers and other land managers.
“But short-term funding for temporary posts to deal with intense seasonal pressures is no more than a sticking-plaster. Visitors and land managers both need the confidence of sustained funding for effective long-term visitor management. The lack of continuity and
extremely short window for application and recruitment in the present funding package is not conducive to effective selection and training. We urge the Scottish Government to acknowledge the advantages of full-time staffing and to support the posts to realise those advantages.”