Two intrepid Young Rangers from the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) embarked on a trip of a lifetime to Estonia in July to take part in the International Junior Ranger Camp.
Ross and James represented the Mendips in the annual meet, where 30 young people from 15 protected areas across nine different countries, came together under the theme of ‘Parks connecting generations’ to share ideas and initiatives on how to protect and conserve their local protected landscapes.
The week-long camp had an exciting and packed agenda and was run by EUROPARC Federation and hosted this year by Lahemaa National Park, one of Europe’s most important forest protection areas. On arrival in the Northern European country, the Young Rangers were greeted by hosts in traditional Estonian dress and they explored the local sights and sounds of the city and countryside. The camp offered the Young Rangers a chance to explore how beauty, nature, people, culture and history are so closely interlinked and connected to the landscape.
During the course of the week, the Young Rangers listened to talks and took part in conservation activities and workshops, brainstorming possible actions and solutions to the biggest challenges facing their local landscapes and the global environment.
James, Mendip Hills AONB Young Ranger, said “We discussed topics that we all agreed on like global warming and plastics. I found it interesting to learn about what others have done and what they would like to do in the future.”
Another important part of the camp was the chance to make new friends with like-minded people and connect with their peers from across Europe. The Young Rangers took part in native crafts, as well as night walks, forest hikes, sailing and bog swimming.
Ross, Mendip Hills AONB Young Ranger, said “The presentations were fantastic and the food was even better! The highlight one day was the camp fire with traditional music from local musicians and lots of singing from us.”
Tim Haselden, Development Officer for the Mendip Hills AONB Unit said “Developing support networks for the next generation of conservationists and environmental decision makers, and showing them the value of partnership working across borders, is crucial if we’re to protect and safeguard the future of our natural world, both at a local level on Mendip and globally. This is vital, now more than ever, plus we can learn a lot from the approach and attitude shown by young people.”