GUWAHATI, Dec 4: The inaugural Asian Ranger Forum (ARF) is set to commence at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati, featuring a flag-raising and inauguration ceremony in the presence of Assam’s forest minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary, and Maharashtra’s forest minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar. The event, scheduled from December 5 to 8, has drawn 146 participants, including 35 women, from 20 countries, along with representatives of local communities. Of these participants, 89 are active Rangers responsible for overseeing various biodiversity-rich protected areas across the planet.
The ARF is a collaborative effort organised by the Assam Forest Department, biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, International Ranger Federation (IRF), Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA), and Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA), in conjunction with other NGO partners.
Chris Galliers, president of the International Ranger Federation, expressed excitement about the forum, stating, “It is really exciting to be part of the first-ever Asian Ranger Forum and seeing the regions rangers coming together to strengthen networks, to hear their challenges and also for rangers to share ranger-led solutions to the multitude of challenges that Asia’s rangers face.”
The ARF provides a platform for Rangers to share knowledge, build partnerships, and enhance their capacities through various activities, workshops, and training sessions under the theme “Asia’s biodiversity guardians for 30×30.” Discussions are expected to focus on four key areas: inclusive workforce, conditions, conduct, and capacity. Participants will initiate discussions on existing challenges and opportunities, including addressing cross-cutting issues like climate risks, biodiversity loss, and diseases.
The event will also feature the recognition of Asian awardees of the IUCN WCPA International Ranger Award, including ranger teams from Bhutan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, honouring their outstanding contributions to protecting and conserving natural heritage.
Additionally, the Exploring Womanhood Foundation Van Durga Conservation Award 2023 will be presented to women rangers from Gujarat, Meghalaya, and Rajasthan, India. A special award will recognise the spouse of a ranger from Maharashtra for their extraordinary contributions to biodiversity conservation.
The Guwahati Declaration, a statement by rangers for rangers, will be announced during the Forum, emphasising the crucial role of rangers in nature conservation, promoting inclusivity and diversity in the ranger workforce, and outlining recommendations to support and empower Asian rangers in their duties. The Guwahati Declaration will contribute to the upcoming 10th IRF World Ranger Congress in 2024 (October 2024, France).
The International Ranger Federation (IRF) is a global, non-profit organisation that advocates for and promotes the Ranger profession. The Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA) is a time-bound initiative supporting the IRF to recognise the ranger occupation as a skilled, trusted, and respected profession. The Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA) works to address challenges faced by rangers across Asia, advocating for their welfare and recognition.
One of the ARF’s objectives is to develop a declaration by rangers for rangers, emphasising their vital role in nature conservation, promoting inclusivity and diversity, and identifying strategies to support and empower Asian rangers in their duties effectively and responsibly. The Guwahati Declaration will incorporate key recommendations raised by rangers at the ARF and contribute to the upcoming World Ranger Congress in 2024.