National Parks and Wildlife Service

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There have been a number of concerns regarding hazard reduction activities and the management of national parks in New South Wales.

Hazard Reduction versus Back-burning

Hazard reduction burns and back-burning are not the same thing.

Hazard reduction burning occurs in a planned and methodical manner in cooler months, in an effort to reduce potential fire risk later in the year.

Back-burning only occurs after a fire has already started. Tactically, it is always a last resort in an effort to contain or redirect the path of an existing fire.

As Shane Fitzsimmons has recently said, hazard reduction is not a panacea for bushfires.  However, given the government is attempting to shift blame away from themselves and climate change, it’s important that we hold them to account for their decisions.

“Hazard reduction is absolutely an important factor when it comes to fire management and managing fire in the landscape but it is not the panacea,”

“When you’re running fires under severe, extreme or worse conditions, hazard reduction has very little effect at all on fire spread.”

Cuts to the National Parks and Wildlife Service

The Liberal-National Government’s cuts to the National Park and Wildlife Service are beyond doubt.

The Environment Minister, Matt Kean, has admitted that his government has cut national parks rangers. We know that more than 770 staff in total have been sacked or demoted (restructured) from National Parks, including crucial scientists and ecologists who would have been leading our recovery programs, and a 74% cut in fire management officers, from 38 positions state-wide, to ten.

Genuine concerns exist around hazard reduction resourcing, including from within the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which carries out 75% of all hazard reduction burns in NSW. The window of opportunity for hazard reduction burns is shortening, so the Government’s decision to sack fire management officers and other staff carrying out hazard reduction activities must be called out.

Quick Stats – National Parks and Wildlife Service Cuts

PositionsLabor RecordGovernment RecordDifference
Rangers264 (July 2011)220 (Nov 2019)17% cut
Fire Management Officers38 (July 2011)10 (Nov 2019)74% cut
Field Officers669 (July 2011)677 (July 677)1% increase
Area Managers72 (July 2011)37 (Sep 2018)49% cut
Total NPWS1,877 (July 2011)1,665 (Nov 2019)16% cut