Guwahati, Dec 5 (PTI) The first Asian Ranger Forum (ARF) meet, in which 146 experts in forest, biodiversity and related fields from 20 countries are taking part, was inaugurated in Guwahati on Tuesday.
The three-day event will provide a unique opportunity for rangers and organisations supporting rangers from all over Asia to share knowledge, create partnerships and build capacity through plenary sessions, workshops, training and other activities, Environment and Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said.
Inaugurating the meet, he said, ''I take pride that Assam which is known for its rich biodiversity and a unique success story of conservation of one-horned Indian Rhino besides other precious floral and faunal species, has been chosen for hosting the First Asian Ranger Forum.''
The ARF will formulate the 'Guwahati Declaration' emphasising the rangers' crucial role in nature conservation, promoting inclusivity and diversity, and identifying strategies to support and empower them to carry out their duties effectively and responsibly.
It is being organised by the state forest department, biodiversity conservation organisation Aaranyak, International Ranger Federation (IRF), the Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA), and the Universal Ranger Support Alliance (URSA) in collaboration with other NGO partners.
"It is really exciting to be part of the Forum and seeing 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,'' IRF President Chris Galliers said.
Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the forest rangers are the unsung heroes of environment protection and conservation as they tirelessly work to ensure the survival of diverse ecosystems.
''I am confident that the first ARF meet will inspire collaboration and innovation among rangers and in our mission to protect the natural heritage which is a shared responsibility for all,'' the minister added.
Discussions are expected to focus on four areas: inclusive workforce, conditions, conduct, and capacity building with participants expected to initiate discussions on existing challenges and opportunities, including how to address cross-cutting issues like climate risks, biodiversity loss and diseases.
During the event, the Asian awardees of the IUCN WCPA International Ranger Award, including ranger teams from Bhutan, Malaysia and the Philippines, will be felicitated for their outstanding contributions to protecting and conserving natural heritage.
The Exploring Womanhood Foundation Van Durga Conservation Award 2023 will also be presented to women rangers from Gujarat, Meghalaya and Rajasthan during the event.
The Ranger Federation of Asia (RFA) works to address the key challenges faced by rangers during the course of their duties throughout Asia and is an association of frontline field staff from all across Asia who are dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats.
At the inauguration, the Assam minister the said government has given top priority to the conservation of biodiversity, particularly wildlife, and as such the welfare of the frontline forest staff has been of prime concern.
The state government works very closely with various stakeholders for the welfare of people living close to the protected areas of the state so that their cooperation can be availed in a sustained manner for the conservation and protection of biodiversity, Patowary said.
The administration has also taken various strategic steps to set up a sustained synergy between the forest department and the police force to prevent wildlife crimes including poaching in the state, the minister said.