The world’s rangers play a vital, but often undervalued role in managing protected and conserved areas, cultural sites and biodiversity. Without them, we would see more deforestation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. Many rangers also protect the resources of people whose lives and cultures are inseparable from nature. Rangers are women, men, government staff, community members, landowners, Indigenous peoples, volunteers and more. Their work is complex and varies widely: combating poaching and land grabbing, biological monitoring, guiding tourists, fighting fires, working with communities and providing an early warning system for threats.
Yet a 2019 global survey of more than 7000 rangers revealed that many are underpaid, uninsured, inadequately trained, working on temporary contracts, lacking even basic equipment and accommodation and spending weeks away from home. Many get sick, are injured or killed, and many simply cannot afford to continue as rangers. The annual roll of honour released by the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the Thin Green Line Foundation on Word Ranger Day, gives testament to the sacrifices made.
At the International Ranger Federation’s 2019 World Congress in Chitwan, Nepal, more than 550 Rangers from 70 countries agreed upon the Chitwan Declaration, detailing the needs and priorities for rangers to do their work more professionally, safely, and responsibly.
The Declaration also calls for international support, and in response IUCN-WCPA has joined with the IRF and six other conservation organisations* to form URSA, the Universal Ranger Support Alliance. Launched on World Ranger Day (31 July 2020), URSA has prepared a global action plan to help support rangers achieve their goals. By ensuring that the urgently needed investment, tools, reforms and policy changes are put in place, the plans’s overall goal is
A network of well-supported, professionally competent, mandated, motivated, responsible and representative rangers working effectively as custodians of biodiversity and the life systems upon which we all depend
The plan has five main elements
- Better pay, working conditions and equipment: The plan establishes a framework for widespread adoption of global minimum standards of working and employment conditions for all rangers
- Better opportunities for training and learning: The plan sets out a process for establishing general standards of competence, performance and conduct and for enabling much wider access to quality training and learning.
- Fairer employment opportunities and conditions: The plan includes mechanisms for attracting underrepresented groups into the ranger workforce, in particular women and members of Indigenous and local communities.
- More trust and accountability: The plan prioritises s the development of global codes of conduct, safeguarding mechanisms and means for reporting and responding to wrongdoing.
- Better representation and advocacy: URSA is not the representative organisation of rangers; that is the International Ranger Federation. The plan includes measures to strengthen the IRF’s capability to make its voice heard, and to expand and empower the global network of ranger associations.
URSA members will start implementing the plan at once, working with IRF members, WCPA members, governments, donors, international organisations and NGOs. Over the next weeks there will be a number of events and announcements about URSA and the plan, leading up to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France in January 2021.
URSA’s founding members are: Fauna & Flora International, Force for Nature, Global Wildlife Conservation, the International Ranger Federation, Panthera, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, and the Zoological Society of London.
For further information visit the websites of URSA members or ursa4rangers.org
World Ranger Day (WRD) is celebrated worldwide each year on July 31st to commemorate Rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate the work Rangers do to protect the planet's natural treasures and cultural heritage.
WRD is a day to pause and reflect on the courage and sacrifice that Rangers make. On this day we honour Fallen Rangers and stand with the people bravely protecting wildlife on the frontline of conservation worldwide.
Learn more about World Ranger Day.
IUCN WCPA Thematic Vice Chair for Capacity Development