Rangers fear job cuts will lower safety in national parks
NSW park rangers are concerned a restructure of their department could lead to safety concerns in parks including Mt Warning, with job cuts on the horizon.
National Parks and Wildlife Service staff said safety was their number one concern and feared staff cuts could threaten the safety of employees and visitors.
Park rangers across the state are facing potential job cuts as part of a restructuring of the department currently under way.
Experienced rangers with in-depth knowledge of their parks fear they will be replaced by younger, less-experienced workers as part of the restructure.
NPWS staff, who have spoken to the Tweed Daily News on condition of anonymity, said they were concerned for safety in places like Wollumbin National Park, which needs constant upkeep to ensure paths are clear for visitors.
Staff said morale was low in the office as experienced rangers faced losing their jobs to make way for younger workers.
But a representative from the Office of Environment and Heritage denied safety would be an issue, saying the restructure was aimed at increasing the number of frontline staff.
"The NPWS restructure will not decrease funding or staffing levels," the representative said.
"Rather, the number of employees will rise.
"NPWS highly values its experienced employees, who have an essential role in the training and development of these new staff.
"The key reason for the restructure is to increase the number of frontline roles to meet an increasing demand for services."
The representative said the new workforce structure had a net increase of 119full-time equivalent roles across NSW compared with the current structure.
Of these, 115 would be frontline roles.
"Unfortunately, organisational change can be disruptive for some staff," the representative said.
"The new structure creates a number of entry-level roles and improved career pathways to enable more people to begin their careers with NPWS and learn from senior staff, safeguarding vital knowledge and experience in the long term."
The Office of Environment would not confirm how many jobs would be lost in the Northern Rivers.
The region covers roughly 210,000ha, including about 100 reserves.