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'I can't believe I am paid to do this' PS Public sector's local heroes.

WORKING in the great outdoors has its benefits... especially if your office space is 10,000 hectares of stunning parkland. Jo Booth has been a ranger at the Pentland Hills Regional Park for two years. Jo, 29, of Morningside, Edinburgh, is one of six rangers who conserve natural resources and educate visitors on the countryside code.

WITH its 100 kilometres of pathway and breathtaking views of Edinburgh and Fife, the park attracts 600,000 visitors every year.

Jo said: "I love my job. Sometimes I come to work and I can't believe I am getting paid to do this."

Jo wanted to be a ranger from the age of nine when her parents took her for walks in the Pennines. She did a degree in conservation management before working in the Great Glen for four years.

Now she takes groups for walking tours of the park and leads activities for youngsters such as pond dipping and woodland skills.

She said: "Many of the children from the city have never experienced a place like this and it's great to see them having fun and learning. Education is a really important part of the job. We try to make people understand the countryside is a living, working landscape.

"We have access to these amazing places but it is important people stick to the laws so we can all enjoy them."

The job is not all about peace and quiet however and the tranquillity is broken when Jo gets out her chainsaw.

She said: "Estate management is another role we carry out. We remove dangerous trees, build paths and facilitate access."

Rangers get paid around pounds 19,000 a year. Academic qualifications help but experience is just as important.

Jo said: "You can volunteer with a conservation charity to learn practical skills or get paid work experience as a seasonal ranger in the summer and gain valuable on-the-job experience."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 5, 2007
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