Continuing on from my last post about the European Ranger Congress, I’d like to focus on international cooperation.
The spirit of international cooperation was strong at the European Ranger Congress last month. The theme of this congress was “Exploring new approaches to conserving nature”. Carol Ritchie, Executive Director of EUROPARC pointed out that the future is full of challenges, but also opportunities too. “We are not alone – we are one big family”. She said that “we need to look beyond our own patch, and elevate our role… Look to the future for Rangers in Europe.”
The Congress had a number of examples of people already working together across borders for nature conservation. Many of the National Parks in Czech Republic are near the country’s borders, so there are examples of parks linking up across borders such as Šumava National Park (Czech border with Germany and Austria) and Bohemian Switzerland (Czech and German border) to show us what can be achieved by working together.
The Congress also looked at ideas and projects to stimulate and develop more international cooperation. Different forms of cooperation were discussed, such as twinning, sharing knowledge, ranger exchanges and clustering. A number of IRF twinning agreements were actually signed at the Congress too. The IRF sees the twinning document as a sign of intent from ranger in different countries to work together. It can be the framework within which ranger exchanges, cross-border projects and other forms of cooperation can develop.
So two weeks ago, the European Ranger Congress brought together staff and volunteers from across Europe (and beyond) to talk about the future of nature conservation. If you think that would be an inspirational event to attend, you’re not wrong!
The 4th European Ranger Congress took place 9-13th May in Litomerice, near the Bohemian Central Uplands of the Czech Republic. People from 26 countries attended, people who are working or volunteering as Rangers (and allied professions) in their own countries.
I’ve just completed another free online course. I know, I’m a bit keen when it comes to learning. There are worse addictions I’m sure.
The course “Biodiversity and Global Change: Science and Action” is an offering from the University of Zurich on Coursera – an interesting overview of the biodiversity on planet Earth, the field of biodiversity science and some of the actions we can take to help protect biodiversity. As part of the final week of the course, I was challenged to be a Biodiversity Ambassador. What does that mean, and how did I tackle this assignment?
I’m working my way through an excellent free course on the coursera website, “Mountains 101” from the University of Alberta. It’s an interdisciplinary MOOC delving into the history, geology, ecology and even the cultural significance of mountains. Here are the key facts:
Time requirement: 12 weeks of study, 3 – 5 hours/week
User Ratings: Average User Rating 4.7
Cost: Free, with the option to pay for a certificate (45.00 EUR according to mooc-list.com)
As 2016 ended, I couldn’t help looking back. Did you know that 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service? It was also the 50th anniversary of the UK’s Countryside Management Association, so I thought it would be worth looking back at the history of National Parks and the CMA, and considering how parks and the Ranger role have developed. In this post i’ll be looking at the rise of National Parks.
The world’s first National Park as we know it was Yellowstone National Park in the United States, created in 1872. When Yellowstone National Park was created, the federal government had to assume responsibility as Wyoming, Montana and Idaho were territories, not states! Yosemite became the first US state park in 1864 under President Abraham Lincoln, and this essentially paved the way for the first national park (especially with the campaigning of John Muir and others).
The Countryside Management Association (CMA) are holding a study day on Monday 12th December at Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, near the O2 in London! The study day is titled “Wildlife sites in urban areas – challenges and benefits for people and wildlife” and it looks to be an interesting one.
Not only is this a great site, but the day will coversome big topics like: the impact of nature sites on health & wellbeing, community involvement (and successful volunteering schemes), and the effects and pressures of development. Phew!
The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was once the most adbundant bird in North America, possibly in the world. Humans hunted them on a massive scale in the 1800s, and they were driven to extinction in the early 1900s. Have we learnt anything from the plight of the passenger pigeon?
A course about conservation
I’ve been taking the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Introducing Conservation” offered by United for Wildlife. United for Wildlife is a collaboration between seven big conservation organisations, and has the Duke of Cambridge as President. Their course aims to educate people all over the world about conservation, and encourages people to get involved themselves. I’m always keen to expand or refresh my knowledge, especially when there are certificates to reward the worthy! I’m currently working through Lesson 1: Life on Earth, and one of the exercises asked me to write briefly about an extinction from the last 500 years. I chose to write about the Passenger Pigeon, a dramatic example of human-caused extinction due to both the huge numbers involved and the short timescale over which it occurred.
Last month I visited Maldon’s Hythe Quay for the first time. Maldon is an Essex town, situated on the coast by the Blackwater Estuary. The Quay itself sits on the River Chelmer; upstream (to the west) lies Chelmsford, whereas downstream the river empties into the Blackwater Estuary and then the sea.
Have you heard of the Countryside Management Association (CMA)? The CMA supports countryside management professionals throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I currently have the role of East of England Region Coordinator, and I’ve organised a social and networking event for anyone involved in countryside management or interested in joining the CMA. So why not come along? More information about the event below!
2nd April 2016 at Belhus Woods Country Park, South Ockendon, Essex
4pm-6pm: Walk and talk
6pm: Meal (optional)
Join us for a walk around Belhus Woods Country Park, with the option of a meal afterwards at a local restaurant. This free CMA event is open to members and non-members alike, and will be a great chance to meet others working in the industry, to discuss your own site and find out about others, and to find out more about the Countryside Management Association.
Belhus Woods Country Park is over 300 acres on the borders of Essex and London, managed by Essex County Council. The site is part of a large extent of open land, with neighbouring sites managed by the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust. For more information about the Country Park, including a location map, see Belhus Woods Country Park’s webpage. For those coming by car, there is ample parking at the Country Park although be aware that parking charges apply.
Please let us know if you are coming to the meal by 19th March, so that we can confirm the restaurant booking.
For more details and to book a place, please email Tom Heenan (CMA East of England region co-ordinator) on: eastofengland(at)countrysidemanagement.org.uk.
Formed in 1966 the CMA is the largest organisation supporting the work of conservation, access and recreation professionals in the natural greenspace and countryside sector throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. To find out more about the CMA visit http://countrysidemanagement.org.uk