NATURE PARK MANAGEMENT I

Course CodeBEN120
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

In this course you will gain a greater understanding of all of the aspects involved in nature park management, including ecology, soils, plants and nature park design.

COURSE STRUCTURE


There are Fifteen lessons as follows:
  1. The Environment, Plants & Animals
  2. Introduction To Native Plants
  3. Soils
  4. Gardening Skills & Techniques
  5. Basic Landscape Design Procedure
  6. Landscape Draughting & Contracting
  7. Design Of Nature/Wilderness Parks
  8. Weed Control
  9. Pest & Disease Management In Plants
  10. Culture Of Native Plants
  11. Plant Nutrition
  12. Pruning & Tree Surgery
  13. Turf Care A
  14. Turf Care B
  15. Reabilitation: Problems & Solutions

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.


SUMMARY OF COMPETENCIES DEVELOPED

On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • 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 THE COURSE COVERS

Here are just some of the things you will be doing:

  • 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 two specified, 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 three different types of pesticides or herbicides, if used on a specific site.
  • Determine the significance to plant populations, of containment of different outputs, 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, inspected by you.
  • Prepare construction details for work to be undertaken in the rehabilitation of a degraded site inspected by you.
  • Develop a management plan for a degraded site, in a natural area visited by the learner.

Aims

  • Aims
  • Investigate the scope and role of nature parks and explain the importance of indigenous plants in nature parks.
    • 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 pest and disease control in nature parks.
    • Investigate the culture of indigenous plants as a useful resource for nature parks.
    • Discuss techniques used for tree maintenance including pruning and tree surgery, with respect to nature parks.
    • Develop management strategies for turf maintenance in nature parks.
    • 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.

How the Landscape can affect Wildlife


Where large areas of indigenous vegetation have been cleared for housing, agriculture, industry, and other uses, they hence greatly reduce habitat left for native wildlife. Many of these native vegetation fragments are often small and isolated from one another by barriers such as open pasture, housing, roads, and water bodies (e.g. dams). These are sometimes known as "island" habitats. The size of an island habitat greatly determines the likely success or otherwise of the species that reside there. Genetic pools are restricted within a small habitat that can lead to problems of diversity within a species. Larger animals, especially predators are known to be severely impacted upon when habitats shrink.

Predators play a major role in the overall health of an ecological system. They tend to prey upon sick and weak animals thereby enforcing evolutionary principles of survival of the fittest. This results in healthy populations among the creatures that they do prey upon. Wildlife corridors when properly maintained enable movement for animals between habitats. This means that the habitat is not isolated and the problems talked of earlier are not as prevalent.

Wildlife constantly moves:
Looking for food; new sources; seasonal availability
  •  Looking for shelter/protection
  •  Searching for mates
  •  Dispersal of young to new ranges
In island habitats there may be no adjacent habitat to forage in, or to disperse along.

Island communities
  • Are vulnerable to catastrophic events, such as pests, diseases, clearing, bushfires, and to gradual changes, such as inbreeding or climatic variation.
  • May not provide all the resources a species require (e.g. food, water, shelter/protection and breeding).

Links between such isolated communities can:

  • Allow migration to replenish a declining wildlife population (increasing numbers giving better chance for some to survive and reduce inbreeding).
  • Allow re-colonisation where a species may have become locally extinct (extend the local range).
Other Benefits
There are not only benefits for indigenous vegetation and wildlife, but also considerable benefits to local land owners. Creating such corridors can also:
  • Help reduce erosion (e.g. in gullies, stream banks, on exposed ridges).
  • Help reduce salinity problems
  • Reduce nutrient runoff into streams.
  • Provide windbreaks or shelter belts for stock and crops; this greatly improves yields due to reduced heat or cold stress of stock and lessens wind damage to plants (e.g. young seedlings, flowers on fruiting plants).
  • Increase birth rates of stock (up to 50% increases recorded in lambing rates in some areas.
  • Provide timber and firewood.
  • Stream-line corridors help improve water quality, help mitigate floods, reduce erosion and improve recreational fishing.
Situating Corridors
They may exist anywhere between habitat islands of any size, even as little as a few old remnant trees that may provide valuable hollows, or linking smaller patches to perhaps a larger state forest.

Remnant wetland environments (e.g. marshes, swamps, lakes) can also be linked with other vegetation corridors, providing improved access for wildlife to important water sources.

They are best designed where possible to follow natural contours (e.g. rivers, ridges). They might incorporate other plantings (e.g. windbreaks, timber lots).

Types of Corridors
1. Natural - follow natural contours (e.g. ridges, streams, gullies).
2. Remnant - along roadsides, railway reserves, disused stock routes and often follow straight lines.
3. Planted - such things as farm shelter breaks and windbreaks they are generally created for other purposes than creating wildlife habitat, but can serve a dual purpose.

Design Considerations
Preserve or restore natural corridors (e.g. gully lines, stream banks). Stream sides are high value areas for wildlife. Limit stock access to riverbanks to prevent erosion and allow for regeneration of riverside vegetation.

Wherever possible build onto or restore existing corridors as they will have existing populations of local flora and fauna, increasing the rate of species spread.

The wider the corridor the better (e.g. at least 30 - 100 m wide) - see section on ‘edge effects’.

Corridors are more effective when they link up with large larger habitats with few or no gaps (e.g. roads cutting through).

Use local (indigenous) plants. These are adapted to local conditions (e.g. soil, climate, fire regimes), and fauna are adapted to them. This also preserves the biodiversity of local flora. They generally have low establishment costs in comparison to introduced species. They have minimal weed potential.

Incorporate all forms of vegetation (e.g. shrubs, grasses, rushes, groundcovers, climbers), not just trees. For example grassy forests may have four different large tree species and between 70 and 100 under storey species. This means that the under storey represents over 90% of the biodiversity of the vegetation in this ecosystem.

A network of corridors is more effective than single links: it increases opportunities for migrations; it reduces risk of links being broken (e.g. fires, subdivision and subsequent clearing of some blocks).

Fencing to restrict grazing of corridor vegetation by domestic stock very important, but be careful not to restrict movement of wildlife.

Consider habitat (e.g. rocks, hollow logs, leaf litter) for animals that may be slow in migrating (e.g. small ground dwellers such as rodents, lizards and snakes). Consider the provision of artificial nest boxes, or placement of hollow logs within new plantings.

Co-operative action between local landowners may be necessary. Such co-operative efforts can make the best use of available resources, and allow for the most effective links between remnant patches.

Agro-forestry, using suitable local timbers, can be used to produce a marketable crop, while temporarily (at least 30 years, and often much more for most tree crops) linking remnant vegetation patches, and also to act as a buffer around larger remnant vegetation patches.

Edge Effects
'Edge effect' is a term used to describe what occurs with regard to vegetation and wildlife when one type of vegetation shares a border with another. They may occur naturally (e.g. forest grading into woodland, or stream side vegetation to drier nearby slopes, and burnt and un-burnt areas); or they can be man-made, such as pasture abutting forest, or roads through forest. Some edge effects can be positive in terms of native flora and fauna, but most tend to have negative effects. Edge effects are most likely to have an influence on narrow strips or small remnant areas. In terms of corridor plantings the wider the corridor the less impact of "edge effects".
 

WHERE CAN THIS COURSE TAKE YOU?

Nature parks and reserves make up a significant amount of land in and around most major cities. They are important areas that preserve the natural flora and fauna of local areas and are intended to save them from development. However, nature parks are designated areas for members of the public to visit and make the most of nature. They therefore need to be managed to preserve them for future generations to enjoy. This course helps students to develop an appreciation of strategies and designs that can be implemented to maintain and enhance nature parks.

This course will be of interest to people working, or aspiring to work in:

  • National parks and nature reserves
  • Botanical parks and gardens  
  • Land management
  • Ecotourism

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