Rewilding sites have seen 400% increase in jobs since 2008, research finds

Rewilding in Scotland has created a more than 400% increase in jobs, research has found amid calls for it to continue.

Research by Rewilding Britain shows 35 jobs have been created at one site alone in the Highlands since 2008.

The research found there has been a 412% increase in jobs at 13 major rewilding projects covering almost 60,000 hectares, including sites owned or managed by charities, communities, private landowners, and public bodies.

Full-time equivalent jobs across the sites increased from 24 before rewilding to 123, across sectors including hospitality, estate management, ecology, environmental monitoring, rewilding interventions, recreation, and education.

The largest recorded rise in jobs was at Trees for Life’s 4,000-hectare Dundreggan estate near Loch Ness in the Highlands, a former deer stalking estate.

Since 2008, some 35 jobs have been created in addition to the sole previous position, while volunteer numbers have risen from zero to 100.

A rewilding centre was opened at the site last year and an open invitation has been extended to Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio to visit it after he backed a campaign for Scotland to become the world’s first “rewilding nation”.

All the sites are more than 100 hectares in size and are part of the Rewilding Network managed by Rewilding Britain.

The research found combined volunteer numbers at the sites increased from zero to 435.

Five new jobs were created at Tarras Valley Nature Reserve in Dumfries and Galloway, a 4,250-hectare restoration project on Langholm Moor.

The former grouse moor was bought with £6 million raised by the community between 2020 and 2022.

The Scottish Government has been urged to commit to nature recovery across 30% of land by restoring habitats including peatlands, native woodlands, wetlands, rivers and seas, with no loss of productive farmland.

Kevin Cumming, rewilding director at Rewilding Britain and deputy convener of the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, said: “These remarkable job creation figures show how rewilding can turbo-charge social and economic benefits, while offering hope for reversing biodiversity loss and tackling climate breakdown.

“This is yet another powerful illustration of why the Scottish Government should declare Scotland a rewilding nation.

“The opportunity is huge – for jobs and local economies, better health, food production, access to fresh water and clean air.”

The alliance’s Rewilding Nation Charter – including representations from more than 20 organisations – has been signed by thousands of people since it launched in the spring.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Restoring Scotland’s natural environment is a key way that we can help address the twin challenges of nature loss and climate change, including many of the interventions championed by the Scottish Rewilding Alliance.

“We welcome this evidence of employment in rural communities and will consider this research as we continue to work towards our commitment to protect and restore 30% of Scotland’s land and seas for nature.

“Our £65 million Nature Restoration Fund has committed nearly £40 million since 2021 to unlock the full potential that nature restoration projects can bring to communities.

“The fund has supported local businesses, helped landowners with pollinator projects to boost food production and supported improved access to green spaces throughout Scotland, alongside restoration of our marine environment.”

The charter can be viewed at www.rewild.scot/charter.