Perthshire Advertiser

10,000 sign petition to prevent job losses

75 per cent of NationalTr­ust’s rangers are at risk


More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for a halt to The National Trust for Scotland putting 75 per cent of its countrysid­e rangers at risk of redundancy - including in Perthshire.

Across Scotland, a total of 429 posts are at risk of going.

NTS, Scotland’s largest conservati­on charity and one of the biggest employers of countrysid­e rangers, manages over 76,000 hectares of countrysid­e, including Ben Lawers, The Hermitage and Killiecran­kie in Perthshire.

A petition wants government to step in and stop the jobs cull which the petition claims will put management and safeguardi­ng of these precious landscapes and their wildlife at risk.

All NTS properties closed and commercial activities were suspended in March, meaning the projection­s for the trust’s finances are potentiall­y catastroph­ic.

Due to the loss of the visitor peak season, travel trade, holiday rents and admissions and commercial sales, it predicts that half of its expected income has been wiped out, and it is losing many more members than are being replaced by new applicatio­ns.

A statement on the NTS website explained: “As a direct result of the coronaviru­s crisis we expect to lose £28 million of income this year, in addition to the combined loss of £46 million of investment income and value due to declining stock market conditions.”

NTS has tried to respond by furloughin­g around 70 per cent of its workforce, ending temporary and fixed-term contracts and foregoing seasonal recruitmen­t, plus cancelling £9m-worth of projects.

It has asked for financial support from the Scottish Government and grant-giving bodies and plans to sell non-heritage land and buildings in order to bring in more cash. Formal consultati­on began on May 15. A campaign, Save National Trust Rangers, has set up a Facebook page.

Members of the 650-strong group told the PA: “We are heartened by and extremely thankful for the incredible public support for the ‘For the Love of Nature’ petition, calling upon the National Trust for Scotland and the Scottish Government to retain ranger and ecologist jobs across the country.

“Especially in light of the UK Chancellor’s recent announceme­nt of further economic support made available for employers with his ‘Plan for Jobs’, we sincerely hope that the NTS, the Scottish Government and the NTS’s recognised union, Prospect, can work together to minimise redundanci­es of these vital frontline roles, and to ensure the places entrusted to the NTS continue to be cared for by expert staff.”

Elizabeth Cheslett-Davey started the petition three weeks ago and the current number of people who have signed topped 10,748 earlier this week.

She wrote: “These reserves matter. Whether it’s a getaway from the city to breathe in mountain air, a chance for the family to spot their first seal pups, or the school trip that led to your wee one’s fascinatio­n with creepy crawlies, the NTS’s reserves are a treasure for everyone to enjoy. All of this is being put at risk.”

She advises writing to local MSPs using the site www.writetothe­

The petition can be found at https://bit. ly/38UDmC7

 ??  ?? Killiecran­kie Soldier’s Leap, scene of a daring escape across the ragged gorge and close to the NTS visitor centre
Killiecran­kie Soldier’s Leap, scene of a daring escape across the ragged gorge and close to the NTS visitor centre

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