Here are a few extracts from the press release accompanying the report:
More and more people are enjoying nature in the UK, bringing economic benefits to local communities.
These are the findings of a new study from the RSPB looking at how conservation and nature tourism create jobs and bring money into local areas. The effects are being felt across the UK, from far flung rural areas to urban fringes.
The RSPB’s 200 reserves now attract two million visits a year. They help bring £66million into their local communities, supporting 1,872 local jobs – an 87 per cent increase since 2002.
These findings complement the Government’s recent National Ecosystems Assessment (NEA) which highlighted the economic benefits conservation delivers through clean air and water, flood defence, carbon storage and wellbeing. The NEA shows that the natural environment is worth billions to our economy every year and conserving it makes sound economic sense.
The rare wildlife habitats that are protected on nature reserves are often found in some very remote places – so the benefits they bring to rural communities can be very important.
Research by Natural England shows that people travelling within England to enjoy nature increased by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2009, despite general tourism trips declining by 9 per cent in this period. The most recent figures showed nature tourism visits reached nearly 3 billion last year with visitors spending an estimated £20.4billion in the local area.
Similar research by Scottish Natural Heritage has revealed that nature-based tourism supports spending of £1.4 billion per year, and 39,000 jobs in Scotland.
Visits to RSPB reserves grew 38 per cent, from around 1.5 million to almost 2 million in the last five years. Over 1,000 local jobs were supported by tourism to RSPB reserves in 2009, three times the number that were supported in 2002.
Reintroductions of charismatic species can also be a big draw for nature tourism. The return of the once extinct white-tailed eagle to the Isles of Mull and Skye now supports more than 150 local jobs while the reintroduction of red kites to Dumfries and Galloway has brought 20 new jobs to the area.
As well as local businesses servicing tourists, like pubs, hotels and restaurants, nature reserves create direct jobs on reserves, support local industry in the construction of visitor facilities and habitat management, and play host to farming lets where cattle and sheep graze reserve land.