SCOTS could be taking on nature-based jobs to help secure a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report.
NatureScot’s analysis of nature-based roles across Scotland shows that they already contribute 195,000 jobs to the workforce.
It also grew at more than five times rate of all jobs in Scotland between 2015-19, accounting for one third of all job growth in the country.
Significant further growth in nature-based jobs is anticipated, as efforts to meet Scotland’s net zero targets increase.
An increase in peatland restoration, tree planting and additional investment in the Woodland and Peatland Carbon Codes all point to an expansion of employment, according to the study,
Nature-based roles are also expected to develop quickly in emerging areas such as urban green infrastructure and green finance.
The report reveals the great potential for rural and island economies, where most nature-based jobs are located.
The findings have been welcomed by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who said: “Green skills are wide ranging and will be vital to delivering our ambitions across a variety of sectors.
“Supporting and encouraging these new jobs will provide Scotland with the skills and expertise to be at the forefront of tackling the twin crises of climate change and ecological decline and I strongly welcome this report.”
However, several barriers to the expansion of nature-based jobs were also identified, including skill shortages, access to training opportunities and a need for more stability in the sector.
Diversity in the workforce is another challenge,with low female employment in many fields, an ageing workforce in some sectors and a lack of data on ethnic minority employment.
The report calls for strategic action by a broad alliance of partners to support the growth of a diverse, gender-balanced and highly skilled workforce.
Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive, said: “Covid-19 has had a monumental impact on Scotland’s economy, giving rise to an immediate need to protect and create jobs, and reduce inequalities.
“This report is a vital step in demonstrating the potential for nature-based jobs to help us build back better as we emerge from this pandemic – ensuring a green recovery and securing a longer-term transition towards a net-zero economy.
“To be blunt. Scotland will not achieve its climate goals without major investment in nature-based solutions, and many of those investments will not happen unless we have a big enough and skilled nature-based workforce in place.
“This report sets out the potential green jobs powerhouse in the nature-based sector driving growth in the Scottish economy, and what an alliance of organisations need to do to deliver that potential.”