Sunday 14 November 2010

Top brass vs rangers

More snippets from the DECCW annual report. Never read the warm and fluffy stuff with colour photos at the front - go straight to the appendixes. That's where all the dirt is buried.

When I think of the Department of the Environment, which includes the mob that runs our parks, I think of lots of buff blokes in green or blue shirts running around doing good stuff with trees and native animals.

Sadly, I am mistaken.

Here is a table from 2009 showing how employees are classified. I have re-ordered it from largest category to smallest.

DECC employees by classification

Policy, project and research 993
Administrative and clerical 844
Field 663
Manager positions 353
Ranger categories 303
Horticultural 146
Operations 136
Other 134
Senior officers and senior executive service 108
Trade 18
Total 3698

I'm not sure what "field" positions are, but I presume they involve running around getting your boots dirty. I hope.

Of the 3700 staff, from what I can gather, only about 1000 actually do work with trees and flowers and furry creatures. The rest are driving a desk.

Amazingly, there are only 303 rangers. They are outnumbered by the 353 managers, and even more incredibly, there are 108 senior officers and executives (and they have grown from 83 in 2007 to 108 in 2009).

To add insult to injury, for a department that manages so much land out in the scrub, 55% of their staff work in the Sydney metro area - presumably in a nice office somewhere.

The 303 rangers have to manage just over 5 million hectares of national parks, and 888,000 hectares of nature reserves and 448,000 hectares of conservation areas. This represents 8.39% of NSW.

Altogether, there are 793 community conservation areas, national parks, aboriginal areas, regional parks etc etc etc - in other words, there are 0.38 rangers per bit of land that the department manages.

There are also 48 declared wilderness areas that cover 1.9 million hectares - another 2.4% of NSW.

There are also six marine parks covering 345,100 hectares, and

And last but not least, there are just over 100 bits of land that have been acquired by the department, but have not been turned into reservations yet.

In other words, 303 rangers are looking after nearly 11% of the state. I think they might be spread a little thin. No wonder so many of them are infested with wild pigs, feral goats and weeds; and then they have a tendency to burn like buggery every few years.

More on the burning bit in my next post.

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