They’re starting them young in the Cairngorms National Park after a project for the Park’s first ever Junior Rangers was approved.
Teenagers as young as 13-years-old will be able to develop some of the skills used by countryside rangers after the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board approved the project at a board meeting in Tomintoul last Friday (April 20th).
One of the Priorities for Action for 2007-2012 in the Cairngorms National Park Plan, which sets out the Park’s long and short term future, is to raise awareness and understanding of the area. Junior Rangers will learn about the Park’s special qualities through practical voluntary work.
The training will be done in conjunction the John Muir Award, with successful participants receiving both the Europarc Junior Rangers and John Muir Explorer awards.
The project will train 13-18-year-olds in a number of areas to encourage them to promote the Cairngorms National Park at events such as Highland Games, helping to lead guided walks and making presentations to school groups and visitors amongst other initiatives.
Several National Parks in Europe run similar Europarc Junior Ranger schemes and there will be opportunities for young people in the Cairngorms to become part of a European network.
Eric Baird, the CNPA’s deputy convener and Head Ranger at the Glen Tanar estate, said: “I am really pleased the National Park is involved in this. It will allow young people who have a concern for the environment, particularly special places like the National Park, to develop skills that will help the area. It could also lead to some of them pursing a career as a countryside ranger in the future.
“By being part of a Europe-wide movement, they will feel part of a larger group that is trying to help the environment.”
The go-ahead for scheme was part a wider board decision which included extending the use of the John Muir Award in the Park for a further three years, until 2010, in partnership with another organisation.
The John Muir Award is an environmental scheme that encourages people to discover, explore and conserve a wild place, and to share those experiences with others. The award is named after the Scots born founder of National Parks and is run by the John Muir Trust.
Since 2003 over 2500 people have completed a John Muir Award in the Cairngorms. The current project is a partnership supported by Leader+, Scottish Natural Heritage, John Muir Trust and CNPA.
Rob Bushby, of the John Muir Trust, said: “The continuation of the John Muir Award project agreed by the CNPA board shows the level of confidence and support the John Muir Award has in the Cairngorms. It is also recognition of the role the John Muir Award can play in delivering the Priorities for Action in the Cairngorms National Park Plan.
“The John Muir Award is about encouraging people to discover and explore wild places and to take some responsibility for them through hands on activity; this has proved very successful in the Cairngorms. With the three year extension we look forward to inspiring even more people to do something for the Cairngorms and make a difference.”
Alan Smith, John Muir Award Manager in the Cairngorms, said: “I’m really looking forward to developing Junior Rangers. The proposal will allow us to use the John Muir Award to create new opportunities to involve young people in the work of the National Park and to provide them with experiences that will last a lifetime.”
For more information on the John Muir Award in the Cairngorms National Park please contact Alan Smith, John Muir Award Manager, on 01479 870 518, email [email protected] or visit www.johnmuiraward.org