Interview with the Parks and Wildlife departing Director General Jim Sharp

Jim Sharp shows visitors Karijini National Park (photo – L-A Shibish)

The WA Parks Foundation would like to congratulate Jim Sharp on his energy, ideas, resolve and support which were critical in helping establish the Foundation.

In March 2014 Jim was appointed Director General, Department of Parks and Wildlife after nearly 30 years in parks and conservation management. Prior to that he was Deputy Director General Parks and Conservation in the Department of Environment and Conservation, Director of National Parks for 12 years and Scientific Advisor before that.

Jim has had a career focused on research and policy development relating to access to protected areas, Aboriginal engagement, volunteers, community and business involvement in parks and visitor services.

He is motivated by the belief that a supportive and engaged community is essential to achieving conservation outcomes and that the best way of ensuring that engagement is to give positive rewarding experiences in our parks and other natural areas.

Jim was also a Board member of the Bibbulmun Track Foundation (long distance walking track) and the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation (long distance cycling trail). The Boards are models for development of unique cross regional partnerships focused on the natural environment.

Jim has always had a strong interest in the establishment, promotion and sustainable use of parks and protected areas.

Recently WA Parks Foundation had the pleasure of an interview and asked Jim:

  1. Of all the national and marine parks in WA, name one that is a personal favourite?

“Someone who was much more wiser than I am once responded to that question by saying that whatever park you are in at the time is your favourite and that has been my experience, that I don’t go looking for what is the best but look for the best in where I am at the time, and I’ve never been disappointed. Because every park has its own values, its own sense of place and depending on the time of the year, the time of the day and the light, they all have their own uniqueness, at that point in time, as well as what values they have. The whole system of marine and national parks is important because of the differences and diversity and uniqueness of experiences you can have.  However, one that I like to make repeat visits to is Karijini.”

  1. What are the features of that park that are outstanding?

“There are a couple of elements. One is that it is a landscape across which you can have visual contact over large areas. And that visual contact of the open plains and the woodlands and then seeing through the gorges and the differences and changes with light and seasonality… and that you can have large view sheds and experiences where it is in its natural state. In other words you can’t see any form of human intervention across wide landscapes and you can see it quite regularly.  As well as the spectacular colours and in particular the light on the snappy gums … is a spectacular experience.”

  1. Would you relate to me a story about a memorable experience you have had in that particular park?

“Climbing, with a delegation once, down into Handrail Pool, with a group of people who had never been there before and sharing their sense of wonder and amazement.”

  1. Why is the WA Parks Foundation important to the management of parks in WA?

“The Parks Foundation provides an opportunity for the wider community, including the corporate community to become engaged in supporting, valuing and promoting our fantastic natural heritage. It fills a really important gap that has existed for the wider community to be engaged in an altruistic way in ensuring that our natural heritage is maintained.”

The WA Parks Foundation wishes Jim every success in his retirement and no doubt will see him enjoying more time in our amazing WA Parks.