264 delegates from 40 countries came together at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Arusha, Tanzania from 4th to 9th November for the 7th World Ranger Congress.
Delegates made the most of social events such as a cultural night and evening videos, building connections throughout the international ranger family which will remain as people return home.
An indisputable highlight of the week was the field trips, with those going to Ngorongoro Crater the prizewinners as they witnessed lions take down a buffalo right in front of their eyes!
The program included a great variety of inspiring keynote speakers, field-based presentations and workshops tackling the Working Towards Healthy Parks, Dealing With Hungry People themes of: making it happen; marketing & networking; challenges facing protected areas; capacity building; and ranger challenges & solutions.
From all that was shared through the congress (formally and informally), it seems apparent that around the world protected areas and the rangers working in the field to look after them are coming under greater levels of threats than ever before. Additionally, those threats are accelerating at an unprecedented rate.
We are seeing attacks on wildlife; attacks on the jobs of rangers; threats to the careers of rangers; and on protected areas by competing land uses etc. There are many hungry people.
An approach of “business as usual” is not going to address the threats we are facing. If we want to improve the situation, or in fact simply maintain the position we are in today without it becoming any worse, we need to adapt our responses. It’s about aiming high, and then giving it our best shot.
Through the congress we saw that many associations, and other organisations, are working hard and achieving wins. They are out there tackling issues and projects locally, and internationally.
What we’re not doing so well though is sharing the stories of what’s happening out there on the ground, providing the opportunities to learn from each other in a tangible way, and to draw the inspiration from others – which then motivates us to keep up our own efforts.
A world ranger congress is a perfect place for sharing our stories. But of course a congress is only every few years, and only the people who are here. The next step is to ensure we are all actively using mechanisms such as the IRF website to continue sharing our challenges and achievements and inspiring each other to try new things.
A prevailing message throughout the sessions was the value, and indeed the necessity, of partnerships and collaborative working relationships. Our best achievements come when we are working together. We saw partnerships between protected areas and communities, partnerships between member associations, partnerships between associations and other organisations, and partnerships between other organisations and the broader vision of the IRF.
From this it became clear that if we hope to achieve big things, such as tackling the accelerating threats on our parks and our colleagues, we need to actively foster high level partnerships, such as with government agencies, international NGO’s, and the IUCN.
The congress consistently confirmed that we have a demonstrated strength in field operations, and an increasing strength in providing field support to our colleagues. This is not surprising, as we are rangers after all. It’s important that we hang on to these strengths and continue to build on them, for example through Rangers without Borders. We also need to go beyond our field-based comfort zone and towards effective representation and long term support or improvements, taking on the role of driving force from a high level and strategic perspective.
Another prevailing theme was commercial conservation crime internationally, with an extensive illicit trade in wildlife products – elephant, rhino, tigers, marine life . . . and vultures at a more local level. To tackle this massive problem requires communication and action across regions, and multi-level action . . . from better equipping patrols on the ground, right through to advocacy and lobbying with international governments such as the EU parliament, the UN, Interpol etc. As with most things, this is certainly not something we can tackle alone.
Capacity building! . . . another common theme. And one which has in fact been common to all World Ranger Congresses. We as the international ranger community have long since recognised the importance of rangers having sufficient skills, knowledge and resources, something which is still insufficient in many areas. We saw through the congress that the IRF is partnering with the WCPA on their Global Partnership for Professionalizing Protected Areas (GPPPAM) as one of the means to improve this situation.
Back to hungry people . . . rangers and protected areas are an integral part of society, subject to the social and economic influences of the day. An understanding of these interactions is fundamental for achieving conservation outcomes. Effective collaboration. To ignore this, and to ignore our neighbours and to not consider this wherever we work, is to our own detriment.
In conclusion – we saw various examples of delivery happening, and potentially happening, mainly through partnerships and collaboration. The take home message from the 7th World Ranger Congress: “Let’s pull together and work together as much as possible!”
Our thanks to everyone who helped us make the 7th World Ranger Congress the great week it was.
Congress Organising Team
8th World Ranger Congress will be in 2016 in USA (Rocky Mts)
Plant health authorities across the United Kingdom have stepped up their efforts to tackle a new disease of ash trees.
Work to combat Chalara dieback of ash has been under way for some months. The Forestry Commission and the Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera) are now following up confirmed cases in trees in East Anglia which do not appear to be associated with recent plantings of nursery-supplied plants.
The UK Government is also preparing to impose restrictions on imports and movements of ash plants and seeds into and within Great Britain. These could come into force as early as next week. Meanwhile the Horticultural Trade Association has also encouraged its members to voluntarily stop importing ash plants until the disease situation has been clarified.
Chalara dieback of ash, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea, was found in the UK for the first time earlier this year in young ash plants in nurseries and recently planted sites in England and Scotland, including a car park, a college campus, and a recently planted new woodland. Dr John Morgan, Head of the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service, said,
“We and our colleagues in the Fera, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Forest Service have stepped up our efforts to tackle this disease as a priority. This includes redeploying Forestry Commission staff from their usual duties to survey woods and forests in East Anglia and throughout Great Britain.”
The cases of Chalara dieback outside recent planting sites in East Anglia were confirmed by Fera scientists, and Dr Morgan said,
“Scientists from our own Forest Research agency are also carrying out diagnostic tests on a number of other samples from established woodland trees in East Anglia with symptoms indicative of this disease, and we expect the results within a few days.
“It is still early days and investigations are continuing, but there is a possibility that the East Anglia outbreak is an isolated one which has been present for some time. This emphasises the importance of preventing spread further afield.
“Although forest managers and tree professionals are well aware of what to look for, we are getting very few reports of problems with ash trees. However, we would repeat our advice to use the information on our website, inspect their trees again, and report any suspect trees.
“The Commission already has a wealth of information about the distribution and health of Britain’s trees, and we will be doing more to visit woods with ash trees to assess their condition. As part of prioritising this disease, we will shortly be releasing interim results on tree health from the National Forest Inventory to help provide a picture of the overall health of ash trees across Britain.
“As we gather more evidence from surveys we will be able to develop our long-term strategy for dealing with this disease.”
As a precaution until the situation becomes clearer, the Commission is suspending the planting of ash trees in the public forests it manages, and Dr Morgan added,
“Until we know the full situation, this is a sensible precaution to take against the possibility that young plants might pick up infection after they have been planted.”
Meanwhile, the deadline for submission of comments in a government consultation on a Pest Risk Analysis for C. fraxinea falls this Friday, 26 October, and Dr Morgan said,
“I encourage anyone who has not yet done so to study the analysis and submit their comments. I can give an assurance that all comments received will be considered in any policy decisions taken.”
If most of the comments received endorse the approach, the UK Government is expected to quickly pass legislation temporarily restricting imports and movements of ash plants into and within Great Britain to minimise the risk of further accidental introductions of the disease into areas which are currently disease-free.
Further information, including a pictorial guide to symptoms, is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
1. The Chalara fraxinea fungus has the potential to kill millions of ash trees if it becomes widely established in Great Britain. It has previously only been confirmed in nurseries and on young trees which had been planted out within the past five years in England and Scotland. Most of the affected plants had been imported from continental Europe, and are being destroyed to prevent them spreading the disease.
2. Chalara dieback of ash trees was confirmed for the first time in Great Britain in 2012. Ash trees were first recorded dying in large numbers from what is now believed to be this newly identified form of ash dieback in Poland in 1992, and it spread rapidly to other European countries. However, it was 2006 before the fungus’s asexual stage, C. fraxinea, was first “described” by scientists, and 2010 before its sexual stage, Hymenoscyphus pseudo-albidus, was described.
3.The Northern Ireland Executive has announced plans to legislate to restrict ash plant imports and movements, although there have been no confirmed sites in Northern Ireland to date.
4.It was first confirmed in the Republic of Ireland in October 2012, and the Irish Government has also announced its intention to legislate.
5.The consultation on the Pest Risk Assessment can be found at http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/consultations/index.cfm Suspected cases can be reported to any of the following:
◦Forestry Commission Plant Health Service; tel: 0131 314 6414; email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
◦Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic & Advisory Service; tel: 01420 23000; email: email@example.com; or
◦Fera Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate; tel: 01904 465625; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. C. fraxinea is not a “regulated” plant disease in European Union plant health law, which means that ash plants moved between Member States are not subject to inspection. However, EU legislation allows Member States to take national measures to prevent the entry and spread of pests and diseases not found on their territory, and this is what the UK Government is proposing to do for Great Britain as early as possible after the Pest Risk Analysis consultation has concluded.
The Forestry Commission have published a new, improved pictorial guide to the symptoms of Chalara fraxinea infection, at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara, which they hope woodland managers etc will find useful.
CMA members who are also members of Linkedin might be interested in a new Linkedin discussion group: "Sustainable Tourism and Visitor Management for Sensitive Archaeological and Natural Sites".
It is a bit of a mouthful but the aim is to capture as wide an audience as possible of people involved with landscape management. With approaching fifty members so far and with roughly half from overseas the discussions should represent a diversity of experiences and opinion.
The United Kingdom Government is considering legislation to ban the movement of ash trees from areas where the destructive Chalara dieback disease of ash trees might be present, the Forestry Commission and the Food & Environment Research agency (Fera) announced today.
The announcement follows the discovery of ash trees infected by the Chalara fraxinea fungus in several nurseries and recent tree planting sites in England and Scotland. The infected plants had! come from nurseries in continental Europe, or had been in contact wit h ash plants imported from the Continent. The Forestry Commission, Fera and the Scottish Government’s plant health team are requiring the destruction of all infected ash plants before the disease has a chance to become established in the UK. Plant health authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland are also on high alert for the disease, and Dr John Morgan, head of the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service said:
“The UK’s trees, woods and forests play a hugely important role in our environment, landscape, culture, industry and health and well-being, and we must do everything we can to protect them from threats such as Chalara dieback of ash.
“Chalara dieback is the single biggest threat to our native broadleaf trees since Dutch elm disease wiped out tens of millions of elm trees from the 1960s onwards. The Government is taking precautionary action now to prevent a recurrence of that situation and to protect our landscape, industry and wildlife.”
The Government, through Fera, is consulting on a pest risk analysis for Chalara fraxinea drafted by scientists at the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research agency. The consultation period closes on 26 October, and this process will produce recommendations to the Government about managing the threat to the UK’s ash trees. Dr Morgan explained:
“One option Ministers are con! sidering is to legislate to restrict movement of ash plants so that th ey can only be moved from areas known to be free of the disease. In doing so the Government will take into account evidence received during the consultation process, but our aim is to prevent the establishment of this disease. In practice this will mean a suspension of imports into and movements within Great Britain until there is sufficient evidence that they can safely resume.
“We are making this announcement now to signal the Government’s intentions to businesses which grow or trade in ash plants.
“The international trade in live plants poses the risk of pests and diseases accidentally entering the UK from abroad. For that reason the UK is also fully engaging in the! review of the European Union’s plant health regime to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the 21st-century global trading environment.”
Further information about Chalara dieback is available on the Forestry Commission’s website at www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara. The Pest Risk Analysis and details of the consultation are available in the consultations pages of the Fera website at http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/consultations/index.cfm
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