In summer 2022 Sniffer collaborated with greenspace scotland on a piece of research for Inner Forth Futures partnership as part of its Climate FORTH (Furthering Our Resilience Through Heritage) project development phase. The research focus was to identify practical land-based climate adaptation skills needed in the Inner Forth area, and to recommend how to deliver these skills to support nature-based solutions here.

Climate FORTH aims to create resilience to climate change through local heritage supporting a sustainable green recovery. How land is managed across the six key habitats in this area will be an essential part of increasing climate resilience and contribute to Scotland becoming net zero. However, research by NatureScot has shown that across Scotland there is a lack of workforce numbers, skills and training to deliver this. The skills required include wetland creation, wildflower meadow creation, invasive species management, wetland habitat creation and floodplain management.

The work by Sniffer and greenspace scotland began with desk based research of a literature review, sector profile, an overview of existing funding for training and reskilling and existing training provision and providers.

We then carried out primary research via surveys, workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to understand the current skillsets in the area, where future training efforts were needed, access to equipment and its capabilities, who currently provides training, and what green skills might be required in the future. These were explored as followed:

  • An online survey for those working in land-based roles, which had 23 responses. It aimed to find about what training and qualifications they already had, and where they felt more were required or outside contractors should be provided.
  • Site visits to Hopetoun House to meet with the ranger service, and to Stirling Castle to meet with members of the gardening team. On the ground evidence was gathered of how the land was being managed, the skills required for this, and the ways changes had already been made with climate adaptation in mind.
  • Workshops with the Inner Forth Futures Natural Heritage Working Group made up of nature conservation charities, local authorities, and statutory agencies to look at current and future requirements for land management, the skills gap, and the decision process to bring in contractors.
  • Interviews and workshops with contractors and training providers to find out about the demand for their services, the barriers to working on greenspace management, and how current training is delivered.

The research findings included a strong need to upskill the current workforce, and a desire from them for such training. Barriers to training such as lack of time, and barriers to entry in the sector such as seasonal work were also highlighted. Habitat creation and wetland management were two of the key skills areas that had the potential to grow in the Inner Forth area.

To respond to these needs, Sniffer and greenspace scotland developed proposals for a range of training options for land-based workers in the area. The preferred option involved small group skills development sessions at demonstration sites, responding to the specific skills needs for grassland, woodland, wetland and river habitats.

We welcome the progression of this project into the next stage, with funding now available to deliver a training programme. Training providers are invited to tender by Monday 6 May.

Further information can be accessed here.