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Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

Shaping a global strategy for building capacity and performance of rangers in and around protected areas

  • Author(s): Woodside, Dedee P.;
  • Vasseleu, Jenny
  • et al.
Abstract

The ranger profession is rallying behind the need for change, driven by external and internal pressures to strengthen the occupation and its profile. We undertook a review of ranger capacity aimed at improving the capacity, performance, and alignment of the ranger occupation globally. With an international working group, we undertook an objective and structured problem-solving process to examine current issues and links between key variables. We identified several preferred outcomes for rangers and priority targets for change and proposed a simple model for building capacity and improving performance. The model highlights three key elements of capacity: competency (skills, knowledge, and practice), critical mass (right numbers in the right places) and strong supporting systems (organizational structure, systems, policies, resources, and management). Recommendations emerging from this study include a three-stage action plan with short-, medium- and long-term measures and suggest a collective leadership approach across the entire profession. Short-term actions include harmonizing the names, ranks, and roles of rangers, developing a global code of conduct and ethics, and systematic alignment of available training and support with demand. Medium-term actions emphasize regional knowledge hubs and communities of practice while enhancing exchange of knowledge and skills. They also encourage more recruitment of locals (especially women) to improve connections with communities and engage tacit knowledge of the area, cultural knowledge, and skills for managing natural resources. Longer-term actions focus on developing a centralized ranger support body to facilitate change, advocate for the profession, and promote the essential contributions of rangers to conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

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