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Posted on: 27th May 2011
Early summer saw EUROPARC Consulting welcome a group of protected-area practitioners keen to investigate and gather knowledge of best practice in the United Kingdom. A group of Lithuanians arrived in Edinburgh in late May, under the guidance of Kestutis Navickas, an sustainable tourism expert from the Baltic Environmental Forum. They met with our expert leader Richard Partington, who has a deep understanding of all aspects of “rangering”.
The visiting group – all directors and senior managers from Baltic protected areas - arrived with the aim of gathering in-depth knowledge of how ranger services systems are set up and how they function. Areas of interest were: duties and responsibilities of rangers; how the national legislation in UK works; how labels/security/training/certification works; and how voluntary ranger schemes youth or Junior Ranger schemes work.
Once the visitors were settled at their base in the beautiful Loch Lomond & Trossachs area of southwest Scotland they were introduced to the fact-filled and extensive programme EUROPARC Consulting had organised. Day one took the group across the River Clyde to spend the day on the ground with rangers and managers at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. Here they examined access initiatives and woodland plans, rangers and protected species, the built environment, and communication with rural landowners. The final visit of the day looked at ranger's dealings with special needs groups, formal education and the “health agenda”.
Host for the next day was Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, whose 3 ranger teams were all contributing to an excellent programme that showed the breadth of activities in a busy park area: contrasting the enforcement and visitor management aspects of the work with that of visitor interaction, communication and volunteering. A rather damp boat trip out on the Loch with the water-based ranger team led to a few of the day's lighter moments! An interesting session with a local Police Office talking to the group about community liaison and cooperation completed the day.
Following a two days of fresh air the next day was devoted to outside speakers and discussion panels, to establish an historical and legislative context. Speakers from the Peak District National Park, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Countryside Rangers Association offering three distinct yet complimentary viewpoints to further extend the visitors knowledge.
Another contrast was provided on the final day, when the Lithuanians visited Forestry Commission Scotland to examine how rangers operate where tourism and commercial interests meet. A once-thriving slate quarry, flagship visitor centre and “sound trail” in the Forest Park drive all illustrated how nature, tourism and timber management can coexist.
The visitors arrived to learn how the different rangering concepts could be translated into practice in Lithuania. As Ruta Baskyte, Director, State Protected Areas Service indicated, "In Lithuania we have an urgent need for direct professional communication with local people living in protected areas, with people visiting them, with communities, etc.“ EUROPARC Consulting very much thanks the three host areas who generously gave their time and expertise to the programme. In her comments after the event, R?ta was able to observe:“We see that in different countries at different stages we have different problems, but the same goals: and we now have a lot of good possibilities“.