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Caithness News Bulletins February 2005

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Scottish Natural Heritage has awarded a grant of 850,750 to The Highland Council to support the continued employment of their countryside rangers for the next three years.

The rangers make a significant contribution to the delivery of SNH's functions for conserving, for promoting public enjoyment and fostering understanding of the natural heritage as well as playing a key role in encouraging and managing access and recreation. The SNH grant secures the 26 full time and four seasonal posts who provide a ranger service throughout the local authority area. Scottish Natural Heritage is the Scottish Executive's statutory advisor in respect to the conservation, enhancement, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of the natural heritage.

Ranger Areas In Highland

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For the period April 2004 to March 2007, The Highland Council will receive 249,075, 285,975, 287,000 and 28,700 respectively from SNH to support delivery of an area wide service.

Mary Legg - Caithness Ranger At Dunnet

Donald Mitchell -  Sutherland Ranger At Durness

Confirming the offer, SNH's North Areas director, Jeff Watson, said: "I am delighted that SNH is able to continue its support for the Ranger Service in partnership with The Highland Council. The role of the service is fundamental to SNH's aim of helping and encouraging people to enjoy the natural heritage, and learn more about it through guided walks, talks and environmental education projects. The hard work of each ranger is extremely valuable in this and so too is the partnership approach adopted in providing the service."

The Highland Council convener, Alison Magee, welcomed the SNH offer. She said: "Our Countryside Rangers fulfil a key role in helping the public to understand the natural heritage and how to behave in the countryside. They will be heavily involved in the delivery of the Scottish Executive's agenda to promote responsible access to the outdoors through the access provisions in the Land Reform Act. In partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage our Countryside Rangers will be instrumental in promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Mary Legg (middle) creating Diver Rafts With Volunteers At John Corbet Memorial Hide Near St John's Loch

Continued financial support from SNH is fundamental to the delivery of Ranger Services and I commend SNH's North Areas Board for their continued support."

Rangers are involved in recreational projects throughout the Highland Council Area including, environmental education, footpath development, interpretation provision, access provision, schools visits, talks and guided walks. This brings them into regular contact with landowners, tenants, local communities, and statutory authorities to secure improved recreation facilities.

The service is actively involved with sites of national significance and operates in a vast area lacking formally managed sites such as country and regional parks or publicity owned recreational venues.

Visitor numbers for HC's area are in excess of two million per year (HOST figures) and the resident population amounts to 209,000 (1996 figures). People from all over the world are drawn to the Highlands and the ranger service provides welcome and guidance to these visitors and residents, many of whom participate in ranger activities.