Managing the natural environment: The role of park rangers and the skills they need

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Abstract

The paper explores the roles and skills needed by park rangers in today's challenging work environment. Data from semi-structured interviews with 20 park rangers from NSW, and 14 from Victoria was analyzed using the frameworks widely cited in the management literature as a frame of reference. From this data it was possible to identifythe situational and contextual circumstances that make the role of a protected area manager unique. The ability to makesound decisions about resource allocations, acting as spokesperson to manage community expectations, using flexibility to implement policy, and leading projects involving various people are particularly important roles. The skills most commonlyidentifi ed were not the technical skills such as managing plants or animals but skills such as priority setting, multi-tasking,and communication. The results are very different to the iconic image of a ranger as someone in the outdoors dealing withanimals. In comparing this data with other studies, I conclude context is a critical factor affecting the particular set of roles and skills needed by people in the workplace. I further suggest that the key contextual factor related to the roles and skills needed by rangers is the increasing polarization of environmental issues within the wider community and that training needs to focus more on non-technical skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
JournalRural Society
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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