from 9th – 13th May 2017 in Litomerice/ Czech Republic
A new European networking organisation for rangers was born in Litoměřice, Czech Republic, on 12th May 2017: the European Ranger Federation (ERF) held its first membership meeting at the conclusion of the 4th IRF European Ranger Congress, under the patronage of the International Ranger Federation (IRF).
Between 9th and 12th May 2017, 120 rangers from 24 countries throughout Europe – from Portugal to Russia and from Iceland to Albania – met in the city of Litoměřice, one hour from Prague. With a rich programme of events, the congress was an undeniable success, thanks to the great organisation by both the Czech and Slovak Ranger Associations.
The theme of the congress was “liaising with Rangers throughout Europe”, the focus of many of the workshops and presentations. After the welcome speeches and presentations on the local environment and protected areas, Carol Ritchie as the Executive manager of the Europarc Federation made an inspiring guest speech highlighting how important it is for rangers to be adaptable in this uncertain world.
Interesting, topical and important subjects like the Junior Ranger Programme, ranger training and cooperation and working with volunteer rangers were discussed on the Wednesday afternoon, with several workshops held by the rangers themselves.
Thursday 11th was dedicated to field workshops – in National Parks and Protected Landscape Areas around Litoměřice. There was plenty of time for informal discussions amongst rangers in the field. And culture was not forgotten, with many cultural events in the evenings including a fantastic music night at the local language school.
The culmination of the week was the 1st European Congress Membership Meeting, with some solemn moments. Frank Grütz, European representative of the IRF and the first President of the ERF saw his new executive board elected. There was then a signing ceremony of the “General Declaration of Cooperation” by all National Ranger Associations and registered IRF members in Europe to co-operate with the European Ranger Federation. This was followed by a twinning ceremony where several associations signed an agreement for cooperation, for instance Germany and Israel, under the guidance of Sean Willmore, the IRF’s President.
The European Ranger Federation will now be registered as a non-profit association. With its headquarters in Germany, its core aims include promoting the work of rangers at a national and European level, implementing and improving communication structures between the European ranger organizations, and cooperating with European institutions, national governments, and non-governmental organizations and institutions to promote initiatives.
The new ERF will disseminate the actions of the IRF at the European level, in particular regarding exchanges and communication, ranger training and expertise.
We offer a special thank you to the Ministry for the Environment of the Czech Republic, the International Ranger Federation and the Town of Litoměřice for their patronage and support.
A very special thanks we offer also to the IRF/Thin Green Line Foundation and to the Greenpeace Foundation for their generous financial support to the 4th European Ranger Congress and to the establishment of the European Ranger Federation under the umbrella of the IRF.