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Nature Park Management I

Course CodeBEN120
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
NATURE PARK MANAGEMENT ONLINE STUDY

 

This course has been specifically designed for people working or wishing to work in nature parks and reserves, in managerial or technical positions. Build or extend your understanding of the ecology of these precious environments, and develop the practical understanding to care for the existing environment and manage threats to the plants, animals and the soil system within it. Whether your area of interest is zoos, wildlife parks, state forests or nature reserves, the skills you will learn can contribute to an exciting career, working with and protecting the natural world.

 

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
    • Ising 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
    • FungiReview 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 sportGardens
    • 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.

Tips for Risk Management in a Zoo or Wilderness Park

Nature park workers need to be familiar with the hazards that might occur in their locality. Wilderness parks are especially prone to the occurrence of natural hazards, including the following: 

  • Wild fires – bush fires/forest fires
  • Floods
  • Blizzards
  • Cyclones
  • Landslips and rock falls
  • Dangerous animals

It is the responsibility of park managers to identify and minimise the occurrence of natural hazards for the following reasons:

  • To ensure the safety of visitors to the park
  • To ensure safe conditions for park workers
  • To minimise damage to the park facilities and the natural environment 
  • To prevent problems spreading from the park to neighbouring properties

Park management plans are drawn up to identify and deal with natural hazards. Many parks routinely undertake hazard reduction activities, such as culling or relocating dangerous animals, or carrying out controlled burns to reduce the incidence of wild fires.

When emergencies do arise, park workers are in the frontline. Their duties may include alerting and assisting other authorities (such as the army, emergency services, police and ambulance service), evacuating people, applying first aid, and directly dealing with the hazard.

Accidents
Many accidents occur in nature parks, mainly because people undertake outdoor activities they have little experience with, in an unfamiliar environment. Many overestimate their abilities and take risks they wouldn’t normally do in their home environment.

Fortunately most accidents are minor – cuts, bruises, sprains and overexposure to the weather. But some are serious, and the park staff are normally the first to have to deal with the situation.

Some of the reasons accidents occur:

  • Lack of experience
  • Stubbornness/attitude 
  • Exhaustion
  • Carelessness 
  • Alcohol 
  • Inappropriately clothed and equipped  

Some of the hazards that cause accidents:

  • Sun exposure    
  • Extreme temperatures  
  • Bites from wild animals and insects  
  • Poor weather conditions  
  • Poor visibility
  • Difficult terrain
  • Poorly maintained tracks or roads    

 

How to Prevent Accidents
Parks staff can help visitors avoid accidents by:

  • having staff on duty to give advice and information
  • providing a walkers’ log book, where hikers are required to register the details of their walk including the return date and a contact number.
  • providing park maps and brochures 
  • providing a signboard at the visitors centre with up-to-date information on local weather conditions, track conditions etc.
All staff should be familiar with the park’s emergency procedures and should have up-to-date first aid qualifications.
 

Why Study Nature Park Management?

If you are new to the Nature Park field, this course could be the lauching pad for an exciting and rewarding career working with nature. It demonstrates to potential employers that you have a genuine commitment to land and wildlife care issues, and that you recognize that practical park management skills are best when backed up with a rich understanding.

Already in the industry? This course could help boost your career to the next level, demonstrating your willingness to learn and develop your knowledge in your field, and giving you practical, informed skills that make you stand out from the crowd. New career opportunities are waiting!

 

MORE COURSES TO CONSIDER
Other courses that may be of interest are listed below. Click on any of these to go to an outline of that course.
 
 
 


Meet some of our academics

Barbara SeguelTeacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has worked in Hawaii, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Barbara has a B.Sc. Marine (Academic degree) and M.Sc Aquaculture Engineering.
Cheryl WilsonSports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has spent two decades working in agriculture and equine industries, across England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. Cheryl has a B.Sc.(Hons), HND Horse Mgt, C&G Teaching Cert.
Dr Robert BrowneZoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design.Robert has B.Sc., Ph, D.
Dr. Gareth PearceVeterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation. Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.


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