'No two days are ever the same as an Area Ranger'
To celebrate World Ranger Day, we caught up with Kevin Duncan, who has worked for the National Trust for over four years. Kevin is an Area Ranger with responsibility for conservation of areas including Carrick-a-Rede, Murlough Bay, Cushendun and Rathlin Island. He is also the National Trust's Ranger Champion for Northern Ireland and as such represents the region's rangers to the whole Trust.
Q: What is World Ranger Day?
A: All over the World, Rangers put themselves in harm’s way to protect our natural world. Recent figures report that 108 have lost their lives largely as a result of being killed by poachers due to the fast growing industry of illegal wildlife trade. Without Rangers, iconic species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos would have long since vanished from the wild.
World Ranger Day which is organised by the International Ranger Federation on July 31st, offers the chance to celebrate the bravery and passion of these men and women and to pay tribute to those Rangers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It is also about raising awareness of the challenges they face to support their vital work, through environmental campaigning and education.
Q: What is your role?
A: As a Ranger in Northern Ireland the challenges I face are somewhat different to those faced by others across the globe against issues such as illegal wildlife trade. These men and women really are the heroes of the conservation world and I have the utmost respect for them.
I see my role, as part of the Ranger community, as an advocate of the vital service these Rangers carry out for the benefit of us all. To spread this message far and wide, in hope that it will help us get the much needed support we require to deal with the many challenges we face and to ensure we get the deserved recognition for our key role in preserving our natural heritage.
So I ask you all on World Ranger Day to pause for a moment to reflect on the courage and sacrifice that Rangers make who bravely undertake their role on the frontline of conservation across the globe in the pursuit of protecting our natural world as we know it.
Q: What does a Ranger’s job entail?
A: As an Area Ranger, I am part of the wider countryside team which looks after the Trust's outdoor places across the North Coast.
An integral part of this role is carrying out conservation management and engaging with the wider pubic to share my love of outdoors and inspire them to do their part in preserving our natural environment.
I also help to build and create resilient, sustainable landscapes which are less susceptible to threats from climate change and human intervention, so that it can be enjoyed for future generations by everyone.
Day to day you need to be flexible and be able to manage a constant list of competing demands. You could be delivering an engagement event one morning, carrying out woodland management by lunchtime then deal with storm damage to walkways and path landslides as result of weather, all in one day. I’m not only trying to protect and enhance the wildlife value of the places I look after but also try to encourage public access. There is therefore a challenge to find a compromise which achieves positive outcomes for all.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Some say variety is the spice of life and in my job as an Area Ranger no two days are the same; that’s what I love most. Every day is different presenting itself with new challenges, such as responding to storm damage or coming up with new and exciting ways to engage with the wider public to develop the necessary love of the outdoors, which will ensure its sustainable future for generations to come.
I consideration myself a privileged custodian of the landscape, however this drive and passion must be passed on. Summarising the great words of Sir David Attenborough, "No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced”.
For me having the opportunity to play a part in managing the landscape in which I grew up, increasing the support of its nature conservation by raising its profile, through empowering and inspiring others to value the natural environment, this is the most rewarding and fulling part of working as a Ranger for the National Trust.