[F]our National Trust Rangers from the Lake District recently attended the 4th European Ranger Congress in Litoměřice in the Czech Republic. The National Trust delegates joined 125 Rangers from 26 other European countries and beyond, including Iceland, Israel, Russia, Germany, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia.
The rangers share many of the same challenges in their work, like climate change and habitat protection, dealing with plant diseases and invasive species, working with local communities, using the same tools and equipment…it was noted that flocks of birds even migrate between the respective countries.
This year saw the official establishment of the European Ranger Federation; a formal union of rangers from across the continent of Europe, which sits under the International Ranger Federation. With so much in common it’s natural that rangers want to work more closely together, sharing experience and ideas, and that’s one of the main purposes of the Ranger Congress and the European Ranger Federation.
The Lake District National Park and the national Parks in Czech Republic face many of the same issues. On site visits during the congress the rangers visited some of the National Parks and protected areas close to Litoměřice. They looked at how the Czech rangers are dealing with severe flooding and associated landslips by managing grazing and extensive tree planting. In one area, Ceska Stredahori, they have employed a shepherd to manage the flock of sheep that undertake the conservation grazing. The delegates also looked at ways of improving woodland management and issues of tree safety, issues that sound familiar to teams looking after the Lake District today.
Jess Darwin, National Trust Ranger in Langdale says “Representing the National Trust at the 4th European Ranger Congress was a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, share knowledge and create links with some of the rangers attending from other countries. Meeting those people so passionate about nature, conservation and biodiversity made me proud to play a part in protecting nature. We all have something good to share and we can all help in restoring a healthy, beautiful, natural environment to our places in the UK and beyond.”
The international rangers at the congress all work tirelessly to protect threatened and endangered species, sometimes with few resources and at some personal risk. Ranger Geir Jorgensen is working with a small team and a limited budget to protect the wolf packs in the forests of Sweden, threatened by illegal poaching.
Paul Farrington, National Trust Area Ranger for Hawkshead commented “Like our counterparts on the continent we are also helping to protect habitats and endangered species here in the Lake District like the netted carpet moth and the fresh water pearl mussel, thankfully not in quite as dangerous circumstances.”
The challenges that we face in the Lake District are not unique and it makes sense to share our knowledge and experience across the country but also across countries.