Learn to work in or manage nature reserves, wildlife parks, zoos and wilderness areas. Extensive 600 hour course.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 700 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Open Learning Course -Learn about Managing Zoos, Wildlife Parks and Nature Reserves

  Course Structure
The Certificate in Horticulture (nature park management) is a vocationally oriented and IARC accredited course comprising both studies in both general horticulture and in nature park management.

Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

  • CORE STUDIES -Nature Park Management I and II
  • STREAM STUDIES - a further four modules (see below)


Nature Park Management I

1. Introduction to Nature Park Management – the role and scope of nature parks; the importance of indigenous vegetation in nature parks.

2. Basic Ecology – the environment, plants and animals; ecosystem concepts.

3. Soil Management in Nature Parks – soil characteristics and problems; earthworks.

4. Plant Maintenance – basic gardening techniques; natural gardening; plant selection; succession planting; equipment.

5. Design of Nature/Wilderness Parks I – collecting site information; preparing concept plans.

6. Design of Nature/Wilderness Parks II – drawing the final plan; construction estimates; designing animal enclosures.

7. Weed Management – characteristics of weeds; weed control; environmental weeds.

8. Pest and Disease Management – management strategies; chemical safety.

9. Culture of Indigenous Plants – techniques for establishing vegetation; planting design.

10. Tree Management – role of trees in nature parks; tree maintenance plans; pruning and tree surgery.

11. Turf Care – turf varieties in nature parks; lawn preparation, establishment and maintenance.

12. Rehabilitation: Problems and Solutions – aims and strategies; soil problems and solutions in degraded sites.


Nature Park Management II

1.Natural Environments – preserving natural environments; plant associations and environment rehabilitation

2. Recreation and the Environment – impact of recreation on natural environments

3. Wildlife Management in Nature Parks– impact of park visitors on wildlife; managing wildlife

4. Visitor Amenities in Nature Parks – design; provision of visitor amenities including picnic areas and campgrounds; management of facilities

5. Park Interpretation – interpretative facilities including signs and education programs

6. Trail Design and Construction – designing access routes in parks; designing and constructing walking tracks

7. Water Areas – conserving and managing natural water bodies in nature park; impact of humans on water areas

8. Marketing Nature Parks – strategies used to promote nature parks

9. Risk Management I – identifying, minimising and managing natural hazards; safety issues

10. Risk Management II – preparing a risk management plan



Choose any additional four modules from the following courses:



  • Ecotour Management BTR101
  • Ecotourism Tour Guide Course BTR301
  • Introduction to Ecology BEN101
  • Weed Control BHT209
  • Wildlife Management BEN205
  • Conservation and Environmental Management BEN201
  • Ornithology BEN102
  • Practical Horticulture I BHT238
  • Marine Studies I BEN103
  • Vertebrate Zoology BEN206
  • Animal Health Care VAG100
  • Environmental Assessment BEN301
  • Workplace Health & Safety VBS103


Accredited through International Accreditation & recognition Council

How to Create a Firebreak
                                 ....advice from our tutors

If you are in a fire prone area: To ensure maximum safety for your property you would need to remove all material able to be burnt for a considerable distance away from whatever you are trying to protect. This could result in a barren, unattractive landscape that most property owners would not consider desirable.

By careful selection and placement however, it is possible to have plants nearby while still maintaining an acceptable safety level.

Ensure that you plant trees and shrubs that have fire retarding properties.

How to Arrange Plants
Careful placement of plants can significantly reduce the impact of fire.

The immediate area around buildings should be free of trees and other combustible materials. Lush, well watered lawns, paved areas, and driveways in this area can provide an effective barrier to the passage of fire.

A fire retarding shelter belt placed at right angles to prevailing winds will also protect buildings (do not place these too close to buildings   a minimum distance between shelter belts and buildings should be the height of the shelter belt, although ideally the distance should be 3 to 5 times the height of the shelter belt).

The shelter belt will act to reduce the wind which fans the fire, will deflect heat and smoke and will catch burning airborne material. The shelter belt should be made up of fire tolerant or resistant species.

Distances from Buildings

Keep trees at least the same distance as the height of the mature tree from any buildings, for example if the height of a particular tree is 20 metres (22 yards) when fully grown, then it should be planted at least 20 metres (22 yards)  away from any building (if the tree falls, then burning branches won’t hit the  building).
Consider Prevailing Winds

The prevailing winds will affect the way fires will travel, and where ash and burning embers fall. It is important to note that prevailing winds may vary from season to season, and place to place. You need to check with your local fire brigade for local wind directions - especially in fire prone areas.

Consider Vehicular Access

Access routes to dams, pumps, roads, etc. should be kept free of trees and flammable material.

This includes all routes of escape. Areas around pumps should also be kept free of flammable material. NOTE: Those people planting shelter belts or corridor plantings to provide habitat, safe passage, and food for wildlife, may have to compromise a little in their design (see “Points to Remember” below). Wildlife corridors may have to be sighted sufficiently far away from your buildings and structures so as not to pose a fire risk.

Maintenance - Points to Remember:

  • Water trees in summer (this helps keep moisture levels in the plant high).
  • Fertilise your plants regularly in summer if soil is moist or rainfall is adequate. A plant that has lush green growth is less likely to burn.
  • Have a hose ready at all times and ensure water is readily available.
  • Only use mulches, near buildings, that will not burn readily. You should remove twigs, leaf litter, etc   from the ground. A compact mulch of stone or even wood-shavings is not generally a problem, but leaves and twigs can be, in a bushfire. Leaf litter can be dug in or composted to prevent it burning.
  • Remove flaky loose bark from trees. Smooth barked trees are less likely to catch fire.
  • Prune lower branches so that burning debris under plants can’t ignite foliage.
  • Remove dead trees and fallen branches.
  • Prune off hollow limbs or fill cavities (hollow trunks, depressions where branches break & rot gets in) with expansion foam or concrete   or remove the plant...fire can catch in such hollows and the tree may smoulder for some time without you knowing it.
  • Have succulent ground cover, lawn or gravel under large trees or regularly slash or cut any underlying scrub and grass prior to the fire season to remove potential fuel for fires.



No course will guarantee you a job - but choosing the right one will certainly help!

Not all courses are equal - some tend to focus on just getting you to the end, rather than helping you to learn.

The fundamental aim of a 'good education' depends very much on three processes:

  1. Gathering knowledge - what you learn.
  2. Retaining knowledge - how you learn and store it.
  3. Recalling knowledge – recollecting what you have learned, even years later.

Choosing what you learn: Education should be broad as this develops your knowledge and skills. When choosing an industry such as  it is always best to learn the basic fundamentals first i.e. the core skills needed to work in the industry in general, that way you can move across inter-industry sectors if needed. The core units for a Certificate in Horticulture (for example) will give you good basic industry skills and also the knowledge to care for plants in a wider setting such as a nature park. Many environmental courses overlook this aspect. Once you have these skills, your future prospects for employment are far brighter as you are a value to more than one industry - in this case the environmental sector and horticulture, so should things change it is easy to move across sectors if you have this background. It also makes you stand apart from others doing environmental courses – your knowledge and skills will be a lot broader.

Retaining knowledge: There are keys to retaining knowledge – most of us will only store knowledge in short term memory the ‘if you don’t use it you will lose it scenario’. As educators we have found at ACS that the best system for storing knowledge is to really know your subject. This may sound obvious but many courses just teach the facts. When students are set problems to solve and practical set tasks, like we do at ACS, rather than just reading and regurgitating facts and figures from text books, they are much more likely to gather pertinent knowledge and retain that knowledge.

Recalling what you have learned: there is a difference between retaining what you have learned to short term memory and recalling what you have learned years later. Undertaking problem solving tasks and projects are much more likely way to commit information to long term memory. We consider that, along with a passion for what they are studying, to be the key reason our students do so well in their courses, our courses are based on a Problem Based Learning system. Problem based assignments and practical set tasks mean that students have to work at finding solutions and developing skills. These may come from various sources - in the process they gather knowledge through experiential learning, which is more likely to be retained in long term memory.  

So although a course and qualification won’t necessarily get you a job – choosing the right course and learning the right things will certainly help.

Course Contributors

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

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

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; author of more than 70 books and edito

Peter Douglas

Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management.
Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian.
Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to ap

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