Garden School -Distance Learning Course
Develop skills to undertake the management of practical aspects of nature parks.
The focus of this course is understanding how humans impact on natural environments, and how park management seeks to provide quality recreational and educational experiences without compromising the parks’ natural environment.
What Does a Nature Park Manager Do?
- Preservation of natural habitats
- Land rehabilitation
- Wildlife management
- Control of feral pests
- Management of natural hazards
- Visitor management
“This course will help you to round off your skills! Couple this course with the previous one to provide you with broader plant skills. It also enables you to understand all the components that make up a nature park.” - Adriana Fraser Cert.Hort., Cert.Child Care, Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert IV Assessment and Training, Adv.Dip.Hort, ACS Tutor.
There are 10 lessons in this course:
preserving natural environments; plant associations and environment rehabilitation
Recreation and the Environment
impact of recreation on natural environments
Wildlife Management in Nature Parks
impact of park visitors on wildlife; managing wildlife
Visitor Amenities in Nature Parks
design; provision of visitor amenities including picnic areas and campgrounds; management of facilities
interpretative facilities including signs and education programs
Trail Design and Construction
designing access routes in parks; designing and constructing walking tracks
conserving and managing natural water bodies in nature park; impact of humans on water areas
Marketing Nature Parks
strategies used to promote nature parks
Risk Management I
identifying, minimising and managing natural hazards; safety issues
Risk Management II
preparing a risk management plan.
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.
Explain the role of nature parks in preserving natural environments.
Explain the role of nature parks as a recreation resource.
Explain the issues of managing wildlife in nature parks.
Explain the design of visitor amenities in nature parks and their impact on the environment.
Explain the role interpretative facilities in nature parks.
Explain the design and construction of trails within nature parks.
Explain the importance and management of natural water areas in nature parks
Explain the importance of effective marketing in promoting nature parks.
Explain safety issues and hazard management in nature parks.
Explain the use of risk management plans in nature parks.
How to Rehabilitate a Degraded Site
To rehabilitate any degraded site means choosing a range of species which includes trees, shrubs, sub-shrubs, grasses, climbing plants and ground covers; natural environments rarely consist of trees alone. Rehabilitation is a complex and difficult problem; no site for example that has been cleared of all plant species can ever be re-rehabilitated, by the intervention of humans, to its original natural condition – irrelevant of our best intentions. Because of this, any degraded site will only have a certain amount of ‘potential’ for its return to a natural eco-system – the aim is to achieve this as closely as possible.
Sites that are fenced off and allowed to rehabilitate naturally, will eventually be much closer to what nature intended, then any re-planting effort we can make. However sometimes an area, particularly those that have little or no vegetation through deforestation or similar activities, needs to be stabilised quickly in order to prevent further degradation of soil through loss to wind or water erosion.
It may also be necessary to grow nurse-plants or pioneer-plants which will stabilise the soil, provide temporary protection from wind, frost and heat for the permanent species. The pioneer plants are often legumes (nitrogen fixing plants) which will die off over time once the permanent species are established. See below for more information on pioneer plants.
When choosing permanent species for a site those native to the area are the best option in most cases.
The reason for choosing local native species, wherever possible, is because:
• They have adapted to suit the local environment ie. soil and climate and therefore have the best possible chance of survival.
• They will encourage the return of native fauna.
• It is a waste of time and possibly harmful, to introduce species into a habitat in which they may not thrive and become targets for insect attack and disease, or in which they may become a potential weed.
How you introduce species into an area will depend on:
• The condition of the site – soils, shelter, water, drainage, salinity etc.
• The funds available ie. direct seeding can be cheaper then seedlings or cuttings
• The local government guidelines you may need to follow
• The size of the site and the available labour
• Whether the site is best fenced off for natural regeneration or whether it requires more urgent human intervention.
The principles applied to the rehabilitation of any site should be applied equally ie. a site can be large – the area of a large forest degraded through logging or mining operations or small - through clearing for home sites.
Use the following principles as a guide:
• Protect and preserve the natural resources – trees, water and animals
• Restore the ecological unity of the area
• Restore the natural structure and natural use of the area using native species where possible
• Determine and address the possibility of ongoing degradation and its causes
• Implement designs that consider possible future change
• Monitor change and adapt as required
• Wherever possible use passive restoration – natural re-vegetation rather then active re-planting
• Use designs that promote self-sustainability
• Set feasible and achievable goals.
Pioneer plants are those species which are the first to colonise a bare and degraded site. If left undisturbed most areas will naturally colonise with pioneer, often nitrogen enriching, plants. Sometimes pioneer plants can be weeds, as is often seen on over-grazed or cultivated soil or shrub and tree species that prolifically self-seed. They may be introduced or native to an area. To effectively use pioneer plants to stabilize and improve a site you should know which species indigenous to your area are suited to this purpose. There are many factors that need consideration following are some examples:
- Choose species most suited to the site - ie. those tolerant of high winds, coastal conditions, tolerate frost or snow, or to improve fertility etc.
- Choose species that are beneficial companions to other plants (also known as nurse plants) by improving the soil and the growth of neighbouring plants
- Avoid plants with vigorous root systems which will rob the soil of any remaining nutrients or plant them as a shelter-belt, hedgerow or windbreaks for other species.
- Scatter pioneer plants in small groups around the site to provide protection and avoid competition with other plants.
WHY STUDY THIS?
This course builds on knowledge obtained in our Nature Park I module, but can be taken as a stand-alone module by people who have some level of awareness of land management and nature park design. The course examines nature parks in greater depth, from the components of parks to impact of human visitors and how to overcome this. Elements of design are reviewed as well as risks associated with poor design and inappropriate use of materials and features. Upon completion students will have greater insight into the key strategies for good nature park management.
This course will be of interest to people working, or aspiring to work in:
Parks & gardens
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