South West Ranger Forum in Teignbridge

The annual meeting of the South West Ranger Forum (SWRF), which is open to all countryside staff in the South West region, has just had its most successful event yet!

Group at Decoy Country Park

Group at Decoy Country Park

57 countryside staff, representing 20 different organisations, enjoyed an excellent day organised this year by Teignbridge District Council’s Countryside Team .  ‘All in a day’s work’ created an excellent theme covering many of the aspects of the variety of work carried out by the team and included visits to Decoy Country Park and Local Nature Reserve, a new grazing scheme and a wild and windswept Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) heath.

Hands-on discussion of issues!

Hands-on discussion of issues!

Discussions included issues such as the protection of bronze age barrows from damage by illegal off-road vehicles, visitor management, the pros and cons of grazing schemes on heavily used sites, community involvement, educational programmes and the use of volunteers.

Group discussion

Group discussion

This type of event not only gives countryside professionals the opportunity to visit other sites, it also gives them a chance to share experience and knowledge.  It’s a good chance to meet up with old friends and network with new ones. On this occasion we were also joined by students from Duchy and Bicton Colleges, all undergraduates on countryside management-related courses.

Yet more group discussions!

Yet more group discussions!

For some, the day was a good opportunity to get away from the day-to-day pressures of their own sites, giving them a chance to gain a fresh perspective.

The Countryside Management Association (CMA) is the National organisation that supports countryside staff and arranges similar training and site visit opportunities throughout England. The CMA  provides the administration for the SWRF annual meeting and supports its aims of encouraging all countryside staff to participate in at least one event a year even if they are not a member of the CMA.

Ian Brooker, Dartmoor National Park Sector Ranger

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