Remembering National Parks Staff

Alix Goodwin, CEO National Parks Association of NSW

National parks in NSW are managed and protected by dedicated and skilled staff and contractors of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). While to many this sounds like a dream job, it is one that comes with serious risks.

In late November, David Gliddon, an NPWS contractor died while endeavouring to stabilise a rockfall hazard on the National Pass at Wentworth Falls. His two co-workers were seriously injured.

This serious incident is a timely reminder of the invaluable service provided by park rangers and contractors in maintaining our national parks in what can be challenging circumstances, to ensure that they are safe and accessible for local and international visitors. It is also a reminder of the brave, tireless and often dangerous work of park rangers and environmental staff involved in protecting the natural environment across the globe.

With a strong commitment to the rule of law and good work health and safety legislation and practices, deaths in Australia like those of David and Glen Turner who was murdered while investigating illegal land clearing in NSW, are rare. The same cannot be said for park rangers in other countries, particularly developing nations.

Data collected by the Thin Green Line shows that over 1,000 park rangers were killed in the 10 years ending 2015, 80% of them by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.[1] Many more were injured and continue to live with the consequences of the injuries they suffered, including psychological trauma.[2]The work of rangers has been described by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as “…one of the most dangerous professions in the world”.[3]

As we embark upon a new year, let us take time to remember those who have lost their lives or been seriously injured while protecting natural environments and endangered wildlife. NPA deeply appreciates their commitment to the world’s network of protected areas.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have lost their lives while performing this vital work, and with those who have been injured, and of course the family and friends of David Gliddon and his co-workers to whom we wish a speedy recovery.

[1] Park rangers on the frontline being killed at an astonishing rate. 31 March 2016. Extracted 8 January 2018

[2] Extracted 8 January 2018.

[3] International Union for Conservation of Nature, Rising murder toll of park rangers calls for tougher laws, 29 July 2014. Extracted 8 January 2018

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