REWILDING can increase and diversify rural and coastal jobs while helping to meet biodiversity and climate commitments, a new report has found.

It has prompted a demand for the UK and devolved governments to back the creation of locally driven, nature-based economies across 30% of Britain by 2030.

The call comes as Scotland ­prepares to host the United Nations COP26 ­climate change summit and is based on the research of 33 rewilding projects showing a 54% increase in full-time equivalent jobs since the concept of rewilding took off in the UK.

Putting nature at the heart of a green economic recovery would ­particularly benefit rural and coastal communities which are among the most deprived in Britain, according to the charity Rewilding Britain.

Such a shift would include new jobs and businesses based on nature-friendly approaches and innovation, with farmers, fishers and foresters benefitting from green investment.

READ MORE: Rewilding scheme to cover half a million acres of the Scottish Highlands

This year the Langholm Initiative charity in Dumfries and Galloway completed the south of Scotland’s ­biggest community buyout of land, ­acquiring 5200 acres for £3.8 million on behalf of the local community. The subsequent creation of Tarras Valley Nature Reserve has already led to six new jobs, with detailed plans under way for community regeneration.

Meanwhile the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST) has shown how a community can protect and restore its marine environment as well as support local jobs and ­businesses. Over 12,000 people have visited the trust’s new Discovery Centre, two new kayaking businesses have been established and dive trips are flourishing.

Rewilding Britain highlights ­other studies showing that expanding ­nature recovery and urban green ­infrastructure could create more than 16,000 jobs in the 20% of constituencies across the UK expected to face the most significant ­employment challenges post-Covid.

Nature-based tourism generates £1.4bn a year and 39,000 full-time equivalent jobs in Scotland alone, with knock-on benefits for local food producers, farmers and service providers.

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In the Rewilding And The ­Rural Economy report, Rewilding Britain claims a thriving “ecosystem of employment” can be built around nature restoration.

“Localised nature-based economies could be transformative for reversing nature loss, tackling climate breakdown and ensuring prosperous and revitalised communities across ­rural and coastal areas,” said Rebecca Wrigley, the charity’s chief executive.

“The Westminster and devolved governments should make a bolder ­financial and political commitment to upscale nature’s recovery and seize the wide-ranging benefits.”

Rewilding Britain says nature-based economies should incorporate core rewilding areas across at least 5% of Britain. These should restore as wide a range of natural processes, habitats and missing species as ­possible to form mosaics of native forest, peat bogs, heaths, species-rich grasslands, wetlands and coastal ­areas, with little or no human impact or extraction of resources.

Another 25% of the country should be regenerative areas with a mix of land and marine uses and ­enterprises such as low-impact mixed forestry, nature-friendly farming and local food, nature-based tourism, ­low-­impact fishing and hunting, locally grown sustainable timber and conservation grazing.

The charity says ­governments, public bodies, businesses, farmers, local communities and others should come together to develop local visions for economic and nature restoration. ­Local land and ­marine plans, with local people at their heart, could be led by existing bodies such as local councils, national park authorities and community organisations.

To support them, Rewilding ­Britain argues that public and private ­finance needs to be refocused towards a shift to nature-based economies. The ­charity points out that although government spending on nature and climate has increased, there is still a huge financing gap but says this can be filled if there is political will. ­Until very recently, for example, the UK Government was still giving £10.5 billion a year in subsidies for fossil fuels.

The UK Government’s plans to boost innovation, including through a £22bn Innovation Strategy, should be used to unleash a wave of innovation in nature-based­ businesses, says the charity.