Nature Park Management I

Learn about natural environments, and the management of zoos, wildlife parks and nature reserves. Develop an understanding of basic ecological principles, nature park design, soil management, plant maintenance and land rehabilitation.

Course Code: BEN120
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Professional Development for people working in parks management, land rehabilitation, conservation or related industries

This course is equally valuable for people wishing to work in nature parks and reserves, in managerial or technical positions.
 
Lay a foundation to work in management of wilderness areas, national parks, camp and picnic grounds and reserves.

Lesson Structure

There are 12 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Nature Parks
    • Role of nature parks
    • National parks
    • Zoos and wildlife parks
    • Reserves
    • Role of community groups in nature parks
    • Using indigenous plants
    • Benefits of indigenous remnant vegetation
    • Naturalised plants
    • Plant identification: plant reviews
  2. Basic Ecology
    • Ecology and its application
    • Constituents of an ecosystem: biotic and abiotic
    • Ecosystem function
    • Heterotrophic vs, autotrophic
    • Ecological concepts
    • Ecology relationships
    • Climatic zones
    • Climate: soil: vegetation interrelationships
    • Plant association
    • Living things
    • Classification of animals
    • Plant classification
    • Using keys
    • Botanical families for different genera: a framework for identifying plants
  3. Soil Management in Nature Parks
    • Soil Management Overview
    • Earthworks in nature parks
    • Soil degradation
    • Erosion
    • Causes, types and control of erosion
    • Salinity
    • Sources of salinity
    • Control methods for soil salinity
    • Soil acidification, and causes
    • Compaction of soil
    • Chemical residues
    • Soil and plant growth
    • Naming the soil
    • Improving soils
    • Sampling soils
    • Nutrient availability and pH
    • Fertilizers and nutrient components
    • Terminology
  4. Plant Maintenance
    • Plant maintenance in nature parks
    • Plant selection
    • Economics of planting
    • Ongoing costs
    • Longevity
    • Aesthetic criteria for plant selection
    • Natural gardening techniques
    • Using hardy, pest free plants
    • Planting for a succession
    • Equipment: a more sustaainable and natural approach
    • Avoiding problem materials
    • Disposing of waste
    • Composting
    • Planting procedure
    • Staking plants
    • When to plant
    • Machinery for park maintenance: overview
  5. Design of Nature Parks I
    • Nature park design
    • Landscaping procedure
    • Pre planning information
    • Landscape plans
    • Design procedure
  6. Design of Nature Parks II
    • Designing animal enclosures
    • Cages and pens
    • Open range enclosures
    • Designing and siting animal enclosures
    • Specifications and contracts
  7. Weed Management in Nature Parks
    • Characteristics of weeds
    • Weed control options
    • Chemical control
    • Biological control
    • Non chemical control
    • Plants which take over
    • Environmental weeds
  8. Pest and Disease Management
    • Pest and disease control: chemical and non chemical
    • Using chemicals safely
    • Understanding plant pathology
    • How to inspect plants for suspected problems
    • Insect biology and classification
    • Laws related to chemical use
    • Types of poisons
    • Understanding toxicity
    • Review of main types of plant pests
    • Review of common fungal problems affecting plants
  9. Culture of Indigenous Plants
    • Growing indigenous plants in nature park
    • Plant establishment: direct planting, direct seeding, natural regeneration
    • Planting design
    • Planting techniques: pocket planting, slope serration, wattling, planting arid sites, direct seeding, spray seeding
  10. Tree Management in Nature Parks
    • The role of trees
    • Tree maintenance plan
    • Arboriculture (overview)
    • Safety for tree surgery
    • Tree surgery techniques
  11. Turf Care in Nature Parks
    • Introduction
    • Choosing turf grasses
    • Feature lawns
    • Picnic areas
    • Areas for sport, gardens, parks
    • Establishing a new lawn
    • Review of turf varieties
    • Turf maintenance procedures
    • Topdressing
  12. Rehabilitation Problems and Solutions
    • Land rehabilitation in nature parks
    • Site plan information needed
    • Site management plan
    • Soil problems on degraded sites
    • Dry areas, overcoming dry soils, managing sandy soils
    • What causes wet areas
    • Overcoming problems with wet areas
    • Factors affecting rehabilitation: debris, mass plantings, water, topsoil, exotic organisms

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Explain the importance of the interrelationships between various components of a natural environment within an ecosystem.
  • Develop management strategies for soils within a natural ecosystem.
  • Develop management strategies for plant maintenance practices, in nature parks.
  • Design a nature park, or a section within a nature park.
  • Develop management strategies for the control of weed problems in a nature park.
  • Develop management strategies for the rehabilitation of degraded sites in a nature park.

What You Will Do

  • Differentiate between different categories or types of nature parks.
  • Determine thirty living components of a specific ecosystem, studied by you.
  • Determine ten non-living components of a specific ecosystem, studied by you.
  • Prepare a labelled diagram to illustrate the interrelationships between at least fifteen different components of an ecosystem.
  • Explain the possible impact of removing two different specified organisms from a specified ecosystem.
  • Explain the potential impact of adding non indigenous organisms, to a specified ecosystem.
  • Explain how different soil characteristics can impact upon an ecosystem.
  • Describe the physical characteristics of at least three different soils, which are of significant to the stability of their ecosystems.
  • Assess aspects of soil dynamics on a site, including: -Topography -Soil life
  • Susceptibility to degradation -Sunlight (canopy penetration).
  • Compare the likely implications of using three different types of fertilisers, including:
  • Benefit to plants -Method of use -Environmental impact.
  • Explain the use of different soil conditioners including: pH modifiers, Ameliorants, Organic matter.
  • Determine the plant maintenance requirements of a specific nature park visited and assessed by you.
  • Develop guidelines for the care of new plantations in a nature park visited by you.
  • Compare the suitability of three different types of grass cutting equipment, for mowing a specific park.
  • Compare the likely environmental impact of different types of pesticides used on a specific site.
  • Determine the significance to plant populations, of containment of different outpus, on a specified site, including: -water runoff -chemical spray drift -effluent -pollutants.
  • Prepare a plant collection of sixty plants.
  • Determine categories of landscape developments which are carried out in different types of nature parks, including: -Wildlife Reserves -Zoos -Sanctuaries -National Parks -Forest Reserves -Vegetation corridors.
  • Evaluate the designs of two different sections, of different nature parks, against given criteria.
  • Collect pre-planning information for the development of a site, within a nature park.
  • Prepare two concept plans for a nature park development, including: -existing features -clear labelling -legend -scale -north indicator.
  • Compare features of two nature park concept plans.
  • Plan the construction of a landscape development within a nature park, including: -materials lists (types and quantities of materials); -plan of proposed landscape development; -list of manpower and equipment requirements; -a work schedule.
  • Estimate the cost of construction in accordance with a specified landscape plan.
  • Estimate the cost of maintaining a specified section of a park, for a three month period.
  • Explain the impact of weeds on two natural environments in the learners locality, using examples.
  • Prepare a weed collection, of twenty different weeds.
  • Describe two different weed problems, in two different nature parks.
  • Explain five different weed seed dispersal mechanisms, for weed species collected.
  • Compare alternative control methods for a specified weed problem.
  • Select appropriate control methods for ten different specified weed problems.
  • Develop guidelines for weed control, in a nature park inspected by you.
  • Develop a management plan to reinstate indigenous flora on a specific site.
  • Explain the causes of three specified types of site degradation.
  • Describe five different techniques for controlling site degradation.
  • Describe five different techniques for repairing site degradation.
  • Describe degraded sites at two different natural areas, you inspect.
  • Prepare construction details for work to be undertaken in the rehabilitation of a degraded site you inspect.
  • Develop a management plan for a degraded site, in a natural area you visit.

What affects Land Degradation?

 
Debris
In most cases, the organic debris at a disturbed site should not be cleared prior to rehabilitation. Old logs, leaf litter, rotting twigs etc are all-important components and will contribute to re-establishing the site if left lying where they are. They will support insects and other small animals. In addition they will help retain soil moisture and supply nutrients. The exception, of course, is weed residues or debris contaminated by chemicals – these must be removed from the site.

Debris can be considered as a valuable resource. By spreading mulch, leaf litter, logs etc, over a site you can encourage rehabilitation. Heavy material lain adjacent to drainage lines can be used to help control erosion and reduce siltation of water courses. Debris can provide perches for birds. Seed carried by birds may be deposited in the debris, and germinate protected by that debris.

Mass Plantings
Mass plantings or planting at high densities will quickly cover up a site, which will help to stabilise it faster, but it can create plant growth which is dependent upon extra care. The roots of plants help hold soil together and prevent erosion. The foliage of plants can slow the wind, filter air, and slow down the rate at which rainfall collects on the ground; hence reducing flooding and soil washing away.

Water Movement
When a site has undergone significant changes through erosion or construction work, there will be significant changes to the way water flows over the ground and is held by the soil. These changes may mean that the site cannot be rehabilitated into an ecosystem like that which existed prior to those changes.

Preserving Topsoil
Insects, soil microorganisms, seeds, etc needed to rehabilitate a site are often found in abundance in topsoil. If some topsoil remains on a site, from the original ecosystem, it may be the source of many of the species required to rehabilitate the site to something approaching its original form.

Invasion by Exotic Organisms
Plants and animals from nearby areas may invade the site being rehabilitated. Wind, water, birds, vehicles and people can carry weed seeds, insects and other small organisms onto the site. Where possible, restrict the movement of exotic species to give the indigenous species a better chance of establishment.
 
 
 
 
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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer
, teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Alison Pearce

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS Agriculture, Wildlife and Ecotourism students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, a Quality Assurance Manager, a Research Technician, and has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

Megan Cox

Megan has completed a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Conservation) with Honours from Writtle University College, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Countryside Management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her experience includes working as a Botanist, Ecologist, Head Gardener, Market Gardener and a Farming and Conservation Officer.

She has worked in various roles in Horticulture, Agriculture and Ecology since 2005. Megan has worked for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs among other organisations in the UK, as well as in Australia and Cambodia.

Michael Brugman

Mike is a graduate of Rhodes University and has experience in the Earth Science field. His working experience includes working as a consultant in geology, environmental and atmospheric science.

More recently he has been focused on research and academia including research interests in areas such as air quality and carbon emissions.

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