About 10 million hectares of forest are lost each year (figures are taken from 2015 to 2020). This rate of deforestation is actually 6 million hectares less than it was in the 90s. To achieve such a satisfactory result, it is necessary to mention the great contribution of forest rangers.
It’s no exaggeration to say that forest rangers are the guardians of our Mother Nature. However, it seems that not many people fully understand the work of forest rangers. What does a forest ranger do? How important are they? In this article, we’ll show you everything, giving you a deeper understanding of this sacred job.
What Is A Forest Ranger?
Ranger – according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – is a general title used to refer to all professionals who work in the field of wildlife/natural area management and protection. As the definition suggests, a forest ranger is someone who is responsible for all forest protection activities.
Due to the nature of the job, a forest ranger undertakes a wide range of tasks, mainly revolving around 4 key duties: monitoring, protecting, engaging local communities, and assisting with tourism. That’s the reason why you will see forest rangers often work under many different other titles, such as forest guards, watchers, game wardens, field enforcement officers, etc.
What Does A Forest Ranger Do?
As mentioned above, there are 4 main responsibilities that forest rangers take on. Each includes more specific duties, and we will break them down in detail to give you a deeper understanding of what forest rangers are doing.
Patrolling is one of the basic duties of forest rangers. This is a very important activity that forest rangers need to do to prevent trespassing or any wildlife crime.
Depending on the human resource and scale of each ranger station, forest rangers can choose to do daily patrols or long-range patrols.
Daily patrols include several small patrols of 2-3 hours early in the morning, mid-day, and evening. Long-range patrols often last for 5-7 days or even longer. Forest rangers usually opt for this option if the terrain makes it difficult for them to enter or leave the forest.
Monitoring Forest/Wildlife and Reporting
Forest rangers are required to collect and report all the important information such as photographs, or evidence of the presence of different species (paw prints, scratches, etc.). Forest rangers are the ones who directly protect the forest and everything involved, and these reports are the tools that help them evaluate and ensure the effectiveness of the conservation activities.
For forest stations with better access to tech facilities, forest rangers can utilize software or apps to record information. Many countries are now using Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool (SMART) as their primary monitoring tool.
Otherwise, forest rangers can manually gather all the important information and report them to higher departments. This information will then be updated on the SMART system to make further reports. From these reports, forest rangers and anyone involved will be updated on wildlife species as well as all the possible threats to the landscape.
Preventing and Fighting Forest Fires
Not only in the dry season, but forest rangers must also be on guard against all signs of fire at all times. Wildfires are one of the major causes of the current state of rapid deforestation, causing the loss of many endangered species in nature.
Forest rangers are in charge of providing information, warning, and guiding others about forest fire prevention and necessary safety regulations. These activities will normally be done via fire-warning posters, signage, or occasional educational campaigns.
In the event of an actual fire, forest rangers are also responsible for putting it out if it’s a small fire. However, with large fires that are over an acre or more, it can be dangerous for forest rangers to handle without the support of specialized forces. Therefore, forest rangers should ask for support in such cases instead of carrying out the firefighting work by themselves.
Enhancing Local Communities’ Engagement
When it comes to forest conservation, forest ranger supervision alone is not enough. All forms of conservation require the participation of people, and it’s the responsibility of forest rangers to enhance the engagement of local people in this mission.
Their responsibilities include visiting local communities to connect and share with them the impact of forests on their life, as well as the importance of forest conservation in both the short and long term. By connecting with local people, not only can forest rangers raise community awareness, but they can also build great sources of information about illegal activities.
Supporting Tourism Activities
There are indeed a lot of tourism activities occurring around national parks. With in-depth knowledge and extensive experience, forest rangers can also act like tour guides to help tourists explore areas in the safest way.
Forest rangers support tourists in detecting species and providing necessary information about specific species. They’re also there to make sure that tourists obey the park rules and that all tourists’ activities do not cause any damage or disrespect to the wildlife.
Every Forest Ranger is An Unsung Hero
The sacrifice of forest rangers is indeed priceless. Even though taking on many difficult and dangerous responsibilities, forest rangers in many countries still have to suffer harsh working conditions without the necessary support. In most cases, forest rangers have to work with inadequate equipment or even without access to basic things such as electricity or clean drinking water.
Above are just the main responsibilities; depending on different countries, regions, or geographical conditions, there will be other responsibilities that forest rangers have to take on, along with many other challenges. Even though difficulties and shortages are immense, many forest rangers still silently devote themselves to forest conservation. Environmental government organizations have been working closely with many NGOs to open training courses for forest rangers. Many governments are also making a lot of investments in order to improve the working conditions of rangers and support them in terms of income and career development.
As an environmental project, Tenere is also accompanying forest rangers in contributing to forest conservation in our own way. With your help, Tenere will spend a portion of the profits to plant and conserve trees around the world. These are only small efforts, but combined with the great sacrifices of forest rangers, a promising green future is not too far to be reached.