How much do park rangers earn annually

Dream job as a ranger

The nature conservation pioneers

Admittedly, the first ranger in the world did not come from Germany, but from the USA. His name was Harry Yount. In 1880 he started work in Yellowstone National Park. This park was the first national park ever to be established eight years earlier.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first full-time conservation area supervisors began their work in Germany. They were ornithologists and employed by nature conservation organizations.

In 1974 the first full-time German nature watch was founded, the Bavarian Forest National Park Watch. In the meantime, rangers work in almost all designated protected areas in Germany - from national parks to biosphere reserves.

This is a ranger thing

The tasks of a ranger are very diverse and depend on the respective location. In the Wadden Sea National Park in northern Germany, for example, he records the occurrence of breeding and migratory birds and observes the development of dunes and salt marshes.

With its unique forest and wild animal populations, the Bavarian Forest National Park in the south places completely different demands on a gamekeeper. In general, however, one can say that there are two main pillars of the ranger profession: public relations and nature conservation.

On the one hand, rangers lead groups of visitors through the protected areas, give lectures and give seminars to bring nature and nature conservation closer to the population. On the other hand, rangers maintain nature trails and information boards, look after observation huts, set up zoning and information signs and regularly check everything for completeness.

Gamekeepers record plants and animals occurring in the protected area and document possible changes in the natural area. In addition, rangers ensure that visitors stay on the paths and keep their dogs on a leash to protect the plants and animals that live in the reserve. If the rangers discover misconduct, they can, for example, issue dismissals or impose fines.

National park versus nature park

Depending on the type of protected area in which the rangers are deployed, they sometimes interfere more or less strongly with nature and are sometimes strict and sometimes less strict with visitors. In a national park, for example, nature should develop free from human intervention. Therefore, the ranger has more of a control and monitoring function here.

In a nature park, on the other hand, biotope and species diversity should be preserved and a recreation area created for people. Here rangers take on tasks in landscape maintenance and tourism, among other things. They are also in contact with local farmers and other land users who have special rights, but also obligations, in the protected areas.

The reputation of the ranger

Rangers cannot always prevent conflicts in the protected area, as the interests of nature and people often collide there. Nevertheless, the reputation of the ranger profession is increasing among the population. The image of the rangers in Germany is not yet as positive as in the Anglo-American region, but a trend reversal is emerging.

Society is increasingly recognizing the importance of protecting our country's natural heritage. Every year the "Bundesverband Naturwacht" receives several hundred inquiries about job opportunities as a ranger in German protected areas.

A "green profession" as the basis

The profession of ranger has been officially recognized in Germany since March 1998. The official name of the ranger is "certified nature and landscape conservationist". The training for this is uniformly regulated nationwide.

Usually a "green profession" like gardener, forester or the like is the prerequisite for being admitted to the exam.

Due to various exemption regulations, however, almost anyone with sufficient training and who can prove this knowledge can become a ranger.

Ranger training

The training to become a ranger demands body and mind. A typical curriculum includes teaching materials from the areas of geology, ecology, animal and plant science as well as nature conservation, landscape management, economics and law. In addition, rangers train information, education and conflict resolution measures.

Safari ranger

In countries like Africa, the rangers' senses are also sensitized to signals from the natural environment. In the wild, for example, it is important (for survival) to be able to clearly identify the noises made by the animals. The roar of a lion and that of an ostrich sound similar, but it is better not to confuse them.

Tracking, navigation, astronomy and meteorology are also part of the training. Safari rangers also learn how to build a dwelling out of plant parts in an emergency, how to treat wounds with herbs and how to use large-caliber rifles.

Junior ranger

The junior ranger project was initiated to get young people interested in nature conservation. It is a European concept that tries to inspire young people between the ages of eleven and 18 to work in protected areas. Corresponding "training" to become a junior ranger is now available in many German protected areas.

Author: Lena Ganschow