Education Young Ranger


2 August 2023
Aree Protette Alpi Marittime

On Monday and Tuesday, 10-11 July, a cross-border exchange took place at Col de Larche/Colle della Maddalena between French and Italian girls and boys involved in the Young Ranger programme. An initiative dedicated to the youngest promoted within the framework of the LIFE WOLFALPS EU project to deepen knowledge about the wolf and the environment of the parks participating in the programme in an engaging way, in the field. An important initiative because one only protects what one knows and coexistence with large carnivores only has a chance if awareness manages to prevail over fear. The initiative was also part of theAlparc “Youth at the Top – Giovani in vetta”, in which the Alpi Marittime Protected Areas take part every year. Ten Junior Rangers from the Alpi Marittime Protected Areas and 10 girls and boys from the Ubaye Valley took part in the two-day event.

Two intense days exploring the nature of the Protected Areas of the Maritime Alps (which in the Col de Larche area protects the ‘Alte valli Stura e Maira’ Special Protection Zone) and the Parc National du Mercantour. Accompanied by Renaud Thery, guide of the Parc du Mercantour, by the managers of the two parks and by Silvia and Ines, respectively from the Italian and French Civil Service, girls and boys got to know each other and exchanged their experiences beyond language barriers and age differences.

Where do the wolves that live in the French and Italian Alps today come from? How are they managed in Italy and France? What does mountain pasture mean for Italian and French shepherds? We talked about this along the way, between an Alpine lake and a flock of sheep (with a few goats, according to Provençal tradition) encountered along the trail.

On the first day, the group climbed to the Roburent Lakes, on the Italian side, observing the traces of the last war (bunkers, forts, mule tracks) and appreciating even more the peace along the way.

Welcomed by the hospitable Rifugio della Pace, after dinner we observed the starry sky, threatened by the light pollution of the plain but still relatively intact, and built a tree with stones to symbolise the link between earth and sky, between human and non-human, and the interaction between the elements. It was a very evocative moment, in which the enthusiasm for the construction and the wonder at what had been achieved involved the whole group.

On the second day, we explored the magnificent Vallon du Lauzanier, in the heart of the Parc National du Mercantour, to the lake of the same name.
The experience was documented by videomaker Gabriele Canu, who followed the group in all its day and night adventures, and will become a short story in pictures and words of two days of friendship, of discovering nature and the difficulty and necessity of giving coexistence a chance.

Young Rangers during an excursion. Photo: Archive PNM/E. Maselli.