Category Archives: Nature

ERC 2017: Rangers without borders

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.

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Be a Biodiversity Ambassador

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?

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Looking back at Parks, part 1: 100 years of National Parks

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.
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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).

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The Plight of the Passenger Pigeon

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?

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Painting of a male passenger pigeon (Wikipedia)

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.

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Green Flag for Belhus Woods

Belhus Woods Country Park (where I currently work) received the Green Flag award for 2015/16, which was great news. The Green Flag Award was launched in 1996 “to recognise and reward the best green spaces in the country”, and the judges look at various criteria such as management, community involvement, conservation and heritage.

To celebrate this achievement, we held a flag-raising event on Wednesday 30th September. The under-5s “Puddleducks” group made their own flags using Autumn leaves, and there was cake and balloons. In other words, we celebrated in style.