Being a ranger is a committed, demanding and at times dangerous profession performed all around the world by those men and women who protect our planet’s precious natural and cultural resources. This year alone, 105 rangers were killed doing their jobs, and the impacts are felt not only by their families and colleagues, but by local and global communities.
World Ranger Day is celebrated on the 31st July when rangers across the world reach out to each other, to their communities and remind of the crucial role they play in protecting the natural world. For the second year around Albania joined the celebration of this important day and on this occasion representatives of the 12 regional administrative units attended the 1st Ranger Annual Meeting that took place in Tirana.
Director of the National Agency of Protected Areas, Mr Zamir Dedej welcomed the guests and invited them to discuss obstacles and opportunities facing them and their respective Regional Administration for Protected Areas (RAPAs). In summary it was noted that rangers’ primary duty is to enforce the law relevant to protected areas, followed by the need to build functional ties with the local community, and also to act as local guides for visiting tourists. Ethical standards and quality of a ranger’s work are reflected in their profound knowledge of the protected territory, understanding of its dynamics, with ability to be analytical, observant and to apply an integrated approach as part of a larger team. The joint conclusion of the Meeting shows committed professional attitude and motivation to perform, and is an encouraging outcome with the view of future development of Albania’s Protected Areas.
In addition to the 1st Annual Ranger Meeting, celebrations of the World Ranger Day took place across the 12 Regional Administrations of Protected Areas in Albania from the 23rd to 31st of July, under a joint motto "I want to be a Ranger". Activities focused mainly on engaging with children, groups of young people in summer schools and also having discussions with the local community about the benefits of living nearby and preserving the PAs, underlying also the important role of the rangers. Education is the most important investment for a sustainable future, which is why working with children and young people are one of the priority areas for the National Agency of Protected Areas. Reaching out to these groups aims to educate and bring closer the importance of nature and its preservation, as well as the joy and social benefits it brings to the local community.
A song dedicated to nature was also launched on this occasion, meant to be sung across generations with the view to bring the beauty of nature closer to the people and to inspire them to enjoy it while also caring about it.
In Albania, a ranger is an employee of the National Agency of Protected Areas, and is a vital pillar in the administrative and practical structure dedicated to nature protection. Through regular patrols a ranger is in direct and constant contact with flora and fauna, often exposed to harsh environmental conditions. During this time s/he monitors and records changes in biodiversity, but is also readily at risk when dealing with illegal activities such as logging, illegal fishing or poaching. With sound knowledge and understanding of a PA, a ranger is also the best guide of the park and can promote and share its values.
Activities organised for World Ranger Day in Albania were supported and coordinated by the EU funded NaturAL project in joint effort with the National Agency for Protected Areas. Staff from each RAPA were responsible for creating and organising local community activities, improving their own capacity to organise and manage future joint events and activities with aim to promoting the PAs amongst the local community and wider.
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