GUWAHATI: The first Asian Ranger Forum (ARF) is scheduled to get underway at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra here with a lags-raising-cum-inauguration ceremony on Tuesday in the presence of Forest Minister of Assam Chandra Mohan Patowary as the Chief Guest and the Forest Minister of Maharashtra Sudhir Mungantiwar.
As many as 146 participants, including 35 women from 20 countries as well as representatives of local communities, have converged here to participate in the global event that is being held from December 5 to 8. Eighty-nine (89) of the participants are active Rangers who are assigned to keep vigil over the planet’s various biodiversity-rich protected areas.
The event is being organised by the Assam Forest Department, biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, the International Ranger Federation (IRF), the Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA), and the Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA) in collaboration with other NGO partners. “It is really exciting to be part of the first ever Asian Ranger Forum and to see the region’s rangers coming together to strengthen networks, hear their challenges, and also for rangers to share ranger-led solutions to the multitude of challenges that Asia’s rangers face,’ said Chris Galliers, President of the International Ranger Federation.
The ARF offers a platform for rangers to share knowledge, create partnerships, and build capacity through plenary sessions, workshops, training, and other activities related to the theme of “Asia’s biodiversity guardians for 30x30.
During the event, the Asian awardees of the IUCN WCPA International Ranger Award, including ranger teams from Bhutan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, will be felicitated for their outstanding contributions and in celebration of their dedication and bravery in protecting and conserving natural heritage. The Exploring Womanhood Foundation Van Durga Conservation Award 2023 is also being presented to women rangers from Gujarat, Meghalaya, and Rajasthan, India. One special award will also be presented to the spouse of a ranger from Maharashtra for their extraordinary contributions towards the conservation of biodiversity.
The Guwahati Declaration, a declaration by rangers for rangers, will be announced during the forum. The Declaration emphasises the crucial role of rangers in nature conservation, the importance of promoting inclusivity and diversity in the ranger workforce, and outlines recommendations to support and empower Asian rangers in carrying out their duties effectively and responsibly. The Guwahati Declaration will feed into the upcoming 10th IRF World Ranger Congress in 2024 (October 2024, France).
It is pertinent to mention that the International Ranger Federation (IRF) is a worldwide, non-profit membership-based organisation established to develop, advance, and promote the ranger profession. The IRF is the standard bearer for the ranger profession globally and the voice of ranger associations and rangers everywhere. The IRF recognises Rangers, whether state, regional, communal, indigenous, or private, as essential on-the-ground planetary health professionals that are responsible for safeguarding nature and cultural and historical heritage and protecting the rights and well-being of present and future generations.
The Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA) is a time-bound initiative that supports, promotes, and advises the IRF to establish a pathway for the ranger occupation to be recognised as a skilled, trusted, and respected profession that is at the forefront of protecting nature, people, and the planet. The URSA was formed through an alliance of eight global conservation organisations that support and invest in IRF to professionalise the ranger workforce globally. Since its inception, URSA has garnered the support of fourteen additional partners that support its mission at the regional and national levels.
The Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA) works to address the key challenges faced by rangers during the course of their duties throughout Asia. Formulated during the 7th World Ranger Congress, the RFA is an association of frontline field staff from all across Asia who are dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats.
The IRF recognizes Rangers, whether state, regional, communal, indigenous, or private, as essential on-the-ground planetary health professionals that are responsible for safeguarding nature and cultural and historical heritage and protecting the rights and well-being of present and future generations, stated a press release.