Do you know a ranger who deserves recognition for their work in protected areas? Would you like to see their work receive US $10,000 in funding?

Nominate a ranger for the first-ever International Ranger Awards by 31st December 2020!

A Tsavo Trust ranger, Kenya. Credit: Robin Moore / GWC.

Announcing the IUCN-WCPA International Ranger Awards

The brand new International Ranger Awards will recognise the remarkable work of rangers in protected and conserved areas  around the world.

Hosted by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, in collaboration with the International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Conservation Allies, these awards are intended to improve rangers’  capabilities, raise awareness about the critical role they play in conservation efforts, and help share rangers’ unique  stories and perspectives.  

In this first round of annual awards, 10 prizes of $10,000 will be awarded to rangers or ranger teams to help support their work and that of the protected and conserved areas where they are based.

This is the first truly inclusive award for  rangers aimed at those across the globe, and we hope to highlight 10 incredible rangers or teams who have dedicated  themselves to protecting the planet, rehabilitating wildlife, and conserving wildlands. 

These awards are designed to recognise rangers of all different backgrounds. Nominations are encouraged regardless of duties, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location.

They are open to the diversity of rangers across the world, recognising the wide range of work they do.

Nominate a ranger today!

Forest fire in 2019 in Sabangau National Park, a national park in Central Kalimantan. Credit: Suzanne Turnock / Borneo Nature Foundation.

Ecotourism and rangers | Supporting conservation

Tourism in natural areas – like ecotourism and nature-based tourism – works in close conjunction with conservation efforts.

Revenue from tourism helps ensure that the natural areas tourists visit are protected and conserved – and rangers play a key role in this vital conservation work.

Without tourism revenue, many rangers wouldn’t be employed, and without rangers, the wildlife and ecosystems tourists pay to visit could cease to exist.

In 2020 COVID-19 has illustrated the connection between tourism and vital conservation work, particularly in the Global South. In these regions, if no better options exist, local people must often resort to unsustainable practices like illegal logging, hunting, poaching or mining to provide for their families.

Ecotourism is not the only tool to support conservation (nor should it be!) but in many places it is still one of the best tools we have to make conservation an economically feasible option that also supports sustainable development.

Rangers on a river patrol searching for Javan rhino in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java. Credit: Rrobin Moore / GWC.

What is a ranger?

It might seem obvious, but let’s first consider these names:

  • Warden (e.g. Game Warden)
  • Conservation Officer
  • Estate Worker
  • Reserves Officer
  • Field Enforcement Officer
  • Community Officer
  • Education Officer
  • Countryside Manager
  • Park Guard
  • Forest Guard
  • Watcher

The term ‘ranger’ is well-recognised internationally, but the reality is that rangers go by many different terms the world over.

And – despite the fact that we usually picture a certain type of ranger, such as a an African anti-poaching patrol unit, for instance – their work is extremely diverse.

The International Ranger Awards aim to recognise the diversity of rangers across the world, and the wide range of work they do.

A ranger monitoring a spectacled bear in Chingaza National Park, Colombia. Credit: Chingaza National Park.


  1. For these awards our working definition of a ranger is as follows: 


Any mandated person working at the site-level as a custodian of species, habitats, ecosystems, and cultural heritage.  Rangers conserve terrestrial and marine protected and conserved areas, whether state, regional, communal,  indigenous, or privately managed, in line with legal and institutional frameworks. Work may combine various roles,  including: 

  • conserving and restoring protected and conserved areas 
  • maintaining area integrity and rule of law 
  • developing and maintaining trusting and respectful relationships with communities and stakeholders
  • engaging and supporting local communities 
  • addressing human-wildlife interactions 
  • monitoring wildlife and habitats 
  • assisting and supporting visitor activities 
  • providing education and awareness 
  1. Nominations must come from an IUCN Member organisation, a WCPA member, or an International Ranger  Federation member association can nominate a candidate ranger(s) and must complete the nomination form. No  self-nomination will be accepted.
  2. Nominees must be Protected or Conserved Area rangers (individuals/teams) and residents of the country where  they are working;
  3. Eligible Rangers/teams must be working in a protected or conserved area either as employees of as part of a  formally established or recognised ranger team (including voluntary, community, and indigenous teams)
  4. Team nominations should preferably be for distinct, identifiable teams or units whose members have together  made specific achievements. Generic nominations for the entire ranger force of a large protected area will not  typically be considered.
  5. Rangers are also eligible who have been killed, seriously injured, or disabled during the course of their work within  12 months of the nomination.
  6. Awards are open to all rangers based on the definition above. We encourage nominations that reflect the full  diversity of rangers and of ranger work around the world. We welcome nominations for female-identifying rangers,  for rangers from Indigenous and local communities, and for rangers from minority and disadvantaged groups.
  7. All nominations must include details of a recognised organisation able to transparently receive, distribute,  administer, and account for the award funds on behalf of the winners. Examples include IUCN member  organisations, recognised ranger associations, and registered NGOs.
Bhutanese ranger Karma Choki. Credit: Rohit Singh / WWF.

Award overview

There will be 10 awards of $10,000 USD. This can be spent in any way that assists the ranger and their team in  conducting their work. In addition, each winning ranger will receive a custom uniform patch signifying the award.  

All nominations will first be considered based on eligibility and the award criteria. A shortlist will be identified and  nominators of those on the shortlist may be contacted for further details. The shortlist will then be reviewed and narrowed  down to 10 winners by a judging panel comprising representatives of the supporting organizations The criteria include,  but are not limited to: 

  1. Exceptional personal commitment and dedication to a Protected or Conserved Area 
  2. Outstanding service to or by local communities when resolving threats affecting protected areas 3. Valor in the face of overwhelming challenges or grave threats 
  3. Demonstrated exceptional impact of the nominees’ contribution 
  4. Outstanding leadership to resolve extraordinary situations or crises 

How to nominate

Nominations must come from IUCN Member organisations, WCPA members, or International Ranger Federation member associations. No self-nomination will be accepted.

To nominate a ranger or team, please fill out this nomination form (also available in FrenchPortuguese and Spanish). Please note that all nominations must include details of a recognised organisation able to transparently receive, distribute, administer, and account for the award funds. This could, for example, be an NGO, a ranger association, or an IUCN office.

If you have any questions regarding your nomination, please contact

Tamaraw Conservation Program rrangers, DENRR, Philippines. Credit: James Slade / GWC.


Nominations are open until 31 December 2020. After 31 December, the google form will close and no more applications will be accepted.

Nominations will then be reviewed by the judging panel and finalists announced at the end of January 2021. 

Nominate a ranger today!

For more information on the awards, and how to nominate a ranger, visit the IUCN website.

Main image: Rangers from DRCS Virunga National Park. Credit: Virunga National Park.