Senior Ranger Kim Fleischfresser – National Parks Association of Queensland

Senior Ranger Kim Fleischfresser

Since the young age of 7, Kim has always wanted to be a Ranger and has worked hard to make her dream a reality. After graduating with First Class Honours in a Bachelor of Applied Science in Natural Systems and Wildlife Management, a post-uni reality check hit Kim when she realised just how competitive it was to become a Ranger.

‘After some 80 or so job applications, and a year’s fulltime volunteer work with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) in Maleny, I finally secured some temporary work on K’gari—my dream work location. Nine months later I became permanent and over 13 years on the island I worked my way up to Ranger in Charge.

Following a change of scenery, Kim now works from Rockhampton as the Senior Ranger for our Fitzroy management area. Kim and her team manage a diverse array of landscapes.

‘From the parabolic dunes of Byfield, to the Berserker Ranges, and Mount Etna National Park limestone cave network, to the sandstone country of Blackdown Tableland National Park—I love the natural and cultural values of these areas and appreciate their importance to the local communities and economies. It’s also pretty cool having the honour of contributing to the conservation of the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby!’

Senior Ranger Kim manages a team of 5, overseeing a broader team of 16, where the majority of her role is to mentor and support her team to achieve priority tasks, as well as build relationships with key members of the community.

‘My work days are fairly varied, except for the volume of emails and meetings, I think that’s pretty standard business for a Senior Ranger. I value the regular conversations and meetings we have with our First Nations partners, other government agencies, Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups and our neighbouring property owners to further build on our working relationships.’

‘I thoroughly enjoy assisting my team with coordinating and delivering projects. This could look like anything from project oversight on a camping area upgrade, as well as managing budgets, reporting on our business plan and departmental objectives to recruiting staff and working on health and safety priorities to ensure the safety of our team and visitors to our parks and forests.’

‘Over the years I have seen increased pressures on our protected areas. With a growing population in Queensland and more visitors to our parks and forests, it impacts the visitor experience with the parks’ natural values being potentially compromised. Our ability to attract and retain employees has also been a bit of a challenge, despite demonstrating some critical outputs and being on the frontline, as these same skills and experiences are highly sought by similar industries.’

Ranger Kim says a day in the life of a Ranger is never the same and they ‘wear many different hats.’

‘The role of our Rangers out in the field is incredibly diverse—they are essentially part police officer, fire fighter, paramedic, teacher, counsellor, landscaper, carpenter, plumber, septic treatment worker, project manager, fencer, lawn maintenance person, pest management specialist, administrator, financial manager and part whatever-else-comes-along!’

With this mammoth list of roles and responsibilities, Ranger Kim says there’s many things we can all do to help our Rangers and the parks they work hard to protect. Particularly in the very popular parks on her patch, like Byfield and Blackdown, that are at risk of being loved to death. ‘…we have an ongoing issue with some people thinking they can take their 4WDs wherever they want, including into the sand blows. This behaviour can damage the natural and cultural values of the park, while also consuming a large amount of our time to manage. Time taken away from doing priority work such as protecting the amazing natural values of the area.’

‘At Blackdown Tableland National Park, the huge amount of day visitors is putting serious pressure on our sites and infrastructure and changing the visitor experience. Combatting the use of social media promoting visitation to sensitive and culturally significant sites within the Blackdown area has also been a challenge. We cannot stress enough, it’s really important for everyone to stick to the designated tracks.’

Ranger Kim’s top tip for visitors to help protect these amazing areas:

‘Always check park alerts and do your research on the parks and forests website before you visit. This will help you to know where you can visit and give you the best opportunity to help conserve the area and avoid a fine! I know a lot of people rely on Facebook groups to get their information, but the most accurate source of information is on our website and signs on park.’

Ranger Kim is so very proud to wear the Ranger uniform and wants everyone to cherish just how much the ‘herbie badge’ means to our environment and our future.

‘I’ve wanted to wear this uniform since I was 7 and am very proud to wear the herbie badge as, to me, it represents a passionate group of people who work very hard, often under the radar and quite selflessly. We just get the job done, and don’t generally speak out or seek recognition for the work we do, but we do need the community to better understand the importance of the work we do to ensure our protected areas are protected and conserved well into the future.’

Visit the parks and forests website to find out more on how to support Rangers like Kim and her team, and have the best experience on our amazing parks and forests.

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