Just creating parks and reserves on paper is not enough to guarantee their long-term conservation. Protected areas around the world require a well-trained, equipped, and motivated ranger corps to protect park resources, provide orientation and security to visitors, collaborate with local communities, and confront threats including poaching, illegal extraction of forest and mineral resources, inappropriate user behavior, and other challenges. Rangers also play a key role in resource management, research, interpretive programs, building and maintaining protected area infrastructure, and carrying out outreach activities with local communities.
For more than fifty years, Colorado State University’s College of Natural Resources, often known as “The Ranger Factory,” has played a leadership role, in research, teaching, training, and technical assistance related to the world’s parks and protected natural areas. For a quarter century, CPAM has built on CSU’s ranger training legacy and has organized intensive, field based practical ranger training courses given throughout the Americas, for rangers from the USA and developing nations. CPAM has worked with national authorities, cooperating NGOs and international donors to do detailed training needs assessments, has conducted ranger training courses in countries as diverse as Mexico, Belize, the Dominican Republic and the Andean nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and has helped design and implement national ranger training diploma programs in Paraguay and Panama in recent years. CPAM has also developed ranger training manuals, and has conducted training of trainers workshop in five countries in recent years to build local capacity to train rangers in-country in several countries.
While courses vary from a few days to a few months, all share a strong field component and ensure that course or program graduates have a core set of skills, abilities and competencies to strengthen their work performance. Topics covered include the following:
- Categories of protected areas, their management characteristics, and the role of rangers in managing them
- Working with adjacent landowners and local communities
- Management of public use in protected areas
- Natural and cultural resource management
- Design, construction and maintenance of Infrastructure and trails
- Interpretation and environmental education
- Protection and enforcement
- Research and monitoring
- Maintaining and operating tools and equipment
- Emergency response (search and rescue, fire management, disaster response, etc.)
- Personal and group leadership