At Queen Elizabeth Country Park in Hampshire, UK, I am privileged to enjoy an array of different and challenging tasks, from monitoring to maintenance, grass cutting to guiding. Occasionally however there are some jobs that take me by surprise.
One such task was that of chaperoning a British pop star whilst she filmed for a music video. This involved swapping my usual company for that of hair and makeup stylists, cameramen, producers, directors, and the aforementioned pop star, and driving them to and fro all over the top of Butser Hill National Nature Reserve. Varied? Most certainly!
The day was spent moving equipment and people to various points around the hill, and ensuring that even in the intense summer heat the windows of the vehicle where kept firmly shut when our pop star was in transit. We started just before midday and were finished just before midnight, with many of the hour’s in-between spent waiting and watching as the crew tried to get that perfect shot.
Although a lot of my time was spent marvelling at the crew as they worked to create a music video, I was also there under strict instruction to ensure they stayed on the parts of the hill where we were happy for them to be, and away from those areas where we would prefer they not go. At the park I work at, like many others around the world, we allow people to visit them and enjoy the park in various ways. Mountain bikers, walkers, paragliders’, horse riders, and, less regularly, film crews; and as important as it is for people to enjoy and appreciate the natural world, by pursuing their passions and hobbies, as a ranger team our true loyalty will always lie with the natural world. So while I was enjoying my time with the film crew, I was primarily there to ensure that no damage was done to Butser Hill and the valuable habitat it provides.
Variation is why I love working as a ranger so much. Each day brings new challenges and different issues to be resolved, as well as new sights and sounds, and the ever-intoxicating wonder of the natural world. But the greatest part of all about the work of a ranger is the overriding story arc, the materiel from which our varied days are made: conservation. Spending a sunny day with a pop star and a film crew is child’s play in comparison to the heroism shown by rangers around the world on a daily basis; those whom fight a war against poachers, who fight to protect our forests or keep our rivers clean, are brave beyond measure. But value may also be placed in the everyday act, explaining to the public why an area is of ecological importance, stopping mountain bikes from eroding important grassland, and maybe even ensuring that a pop star and their crew don’t damage important flora while shooting a video.