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Category: Narratives

Textual narratives explaining key concepts and specific subjects. Cascading from general to specific, eventually they will include variously concept summaries, subject summaries and geographic summaries.

Green space and public health – (1) A short background

In the beginning …..

The impact of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s on both sides of the Atlantic led to increasing urbanisation and a population that began to work indoors, in ‘the dark satanic mills’ of factories, rather than in outdoor active agricultural occupations. It was realised that people needed places to re-create themselves, and so the evolution of parks (and the word ‘recreation’).

When parks were first promoted in the nineteenth century, city officials had a strong belief in the potential health advantages that would result from open space. It was thought that parks would reduce disease, crime and social unrest as well as providing ‘green lungs’ for the city and areas for recreation.

In referring to London in 1829, famous landscape designer J.C. Loudon provided his Hints on Breathing Places for the Metropolis, and for Country Towns and Villages, on Fixed Principles, stating:

We hope that the legislature may not think it unworthy of their attention to take into consideration the subject of breathing places, on some systematic plan, calculated for the benefit of all ranks in all parts of the British metropolis. 

Already at that time, it was also believed that exposure to nature fostered psychological well-being, reduced the stresses associated with urban working and living, and promoted physical health. These assumptions were used as justification for providing parks in cities, and preserving wilderness areas outside of cities for public use in the UK, Europe and USA.

In both England and the USA the focus was on the ability of non-work activity to improve the health, education, social adjustment and life chances of poor people, children, the elderly, handicapped and others who had few resources to replace the outdoor physical activity of agriculture-based peasant life. A less charitable interpretation is that nature-based recreation would shape their mental outlook and improve their character, making them more malleable in their new roles as industrial workers. And so open space was dedicated to provide these opportunities. The human relationship with nature was being recognised as deeply intertwined with both the human conscious and subconscious mind.

Poets and writers captured this (common) sense, like Wordsworth in his 1802 “Daffodils” which concludes with:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought,

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.”

 

Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde’s 1897 quotation, inscribed on his memorial statue in Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland reads: “It seems to me we all look at nature too much and live with her too little.”

 

The various movements to establish parks centred on shaping urban development, preserving nature and creating opportunities for wholesome recreation, and on using recreation and exposure to nature to promote physical activity, character development, socialisation skills and education. In the UK the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages said in his annual report of 1845: “a Park in the East End of London would probably diminish the annual deaths by several thousands …. and add several years to the lives of the entire population”.

In the mid-1850s Frederick Olmsted championed the cause of city beautification in the USA, including a reference to Central Park in New York as “a healthy refuge from the over-crowded living sections in southern Manhattan”. A colleague referred to Olmsted as “An artist, he paints with lakes and wooded slopes; with lawns and banks.”

 

In his 1865 The Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree: A Preliminary Report Olmsted stated:

If we analyze the operations of scenes of beauty upon the mind, and consider the intimate relation of the mind upon the nervous system and the whole physical economy, the action and reaction which constantly occur between bodily and mental conditions, the reinvigoration which results from such scenes is readily comprehended. . . . The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.

The promoters and champions of the first public parks also saw them as a means to boost the local economy and civic pride by making towns and cities attractive places to work and live. These parks were conceived as special places where all sections of society could enter free of charge and mix freely.

The City of London’s commitment to open spaces dates back to the 1870s when, in response to the rapid disappearance of many public open areas to make way for the building of new suburban homes and other developments (sounds familiar?), it embarked on an ambitious project to safeguard some of what remained. Two Acts of Parliament passed in 1878 granted the City of London the right to acquire and protect both Epping Forest and land within 25 miles of the City for the recreation and enjoyment of the public. This far-sighted policy was the inspiration behind the later Green Belt movement, designed to protect the countryside around other British cities from urban sprawl.

Meanwhile the natural landscapes further afield were similarly being valued. American geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden, while not the only person to have thought of creating a park in the Yellowstone region, was the park’s first and most enthusiastic advocate. He believed in “setting aside the area as a pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”.

John Muir the respected Scottish-American naturalist, today referred to as the ‘Father of the National Parks’, said in 1898: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” 

 

 

Even in 1938 UK Professor G.M. Trevelyan wrote in the foreword to the Case for National Parks:

… it is no less essential for any national health scheme to preserve for the nation walking grounds and regions where young and old can enjoy the sight of unspoiled nature. And it is not a question of physical exercise only it is also a question of spiritual exercise and enjoyment. It is a question of spiritual values. Without sight of the beauty of nature the spiritual power of the British people will be atrophied!

Somewhere during the twentieth century, especially as the pace of lifestyle in industrialised Western society increased, that early rationale slowly became forgotten and, although parks have not entirely lost their connection with health, the modern emphasis has been mainly on their use as a venue for physical activity, particularly sport, or as tourism destinations. With increasing urbanisation the vital role that parks, green space and their associated biodiversity (especially in ‘convenient’ urban parks) play in offering health and well-being benefits and enhancing human appreciation becomes even more relevant, just as conserving this precious biodiversity becomes more important.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, especially in Asia, the concept of the value of contact with nature for medicinal, cultural and spiritual reasons has been far more ingrained than in Western society. Mystic natural places like mountains are revered for their spiritual powers. Traditional outdoor exercises have been practised for at least 2000 years. Walk through any park in Japan, China, Korea and Thailand and similar countries in the morning and you’ll see people right up to age 80s doing their daily workout of stretching and strengthening together with breathing exercises and acupressure and self-massage techniques of tai chi and yoga. It is in these countries where the benefits of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) emerged.

 

Review Status: Pending

Green space and public health – (2) Healthy parks, healthy people

Humans are deeply intertwined with nature, through both the conscious and subconscious minds as well as biophysically.

Whilst those perceptions are self-obvious, our decision-makers and funders (whether in politics or organisational management) demand evidence, not just intuition, to justify decisions about policy and budgets. Evidence is of course reliant on research and data but unfortunately for many years, parks and green space have been short on such information, in part because that research and data-gathering about human health and well-being have not been seen as core parks business. The doctrine of ‘individual responsibility’ for personal well-being has held sway, in tandem with the elevation of individual choice through markets as the dominant approach to economic policy. However, over the past two decades there have been concerted scholarly attempts to empirically examine this relationship, especially via advances the disciplines of biology, ecology, psychology and psychiatry.

Origin of ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’

The term ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ was officially coined by Parks Victoria (Australia) at the beginning of this century, stimulated by its commissioned (but independent) review of the international literature, an accumulated body of evidence The Health Benefits of Contact with Nature – produced in 2002 by Deakin University. Parks Victoria progressively incorporated the concept into its strategic approach to park management. Remarkably, though the report found that there were many examples of such research, there had been no previous attempt to consolidate such work into a single benchmark official report.

The expression ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ is really a colloquial way of incorporating considerations of both biophilia and topophilia (see Definitions, later). The ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ concept has wide application. It is relevant to professionals and practitioners in public health and well-being, eco-tourism and park management generally (especially in urban areas), in both developed or developing countries, and irrespective of culture.

The approach has been introduced under a variety of names (including ‘Healthy by Nature’ and ‘Green Exercise’) by a number of park management authorities around the world – in Australia, the United States, Canada and Scotland, to name but a few. In other places the broad principles embodied by the phrase are understood and/or applied without labelling with a specific term.

The ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ approach is built on the understanding that the health and well-being of society depends on the health of ecosystems. Well-managed parks and green space ensure that ecosystems are healthy and resilient. Such healthy environments provide ecosystem goods and services that underpin human life, contribute to economic activity and support cohesive, vibrant and healthy societies. In particular contact with nature can improve human physical and mental health.

The ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ concept is underpinned by six key principles:

  1. Human health and well-being depend on healthy ecosystems.
  2. Parks conserve healthy ecosystems.
  3. Contact with nature can improve human health, both physical and mental.
  4. Parks contribute to economic activity and prosperity.
  5. Parks contribute to cohesive, vibrant and healthy societies.
  6. Conversely, promotion of human well-being will lead to greater appreciation of parks and ecosystems.

World Congress 2010

As a result of the success of its initiative Parks Victoria was encouraged to stage an international congress on the topic and this was held in Melbourne in April 2010, attracting more than 1200 delegates from 37 countries – a clear illustration of the global significance of the concept. The Congress concluded by producing The Melbourne Communiqué – a call to action!

The Chairperson, the Congress Committee and delegates of the inaugural International Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress 2010 call on:

  • The governments of the world;
  • The United Nations and its agencies (in particular UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN World Tourism Organization) together with the World Health Organization, and International Union for Conservation of Nature;
  • National and international philanthropic, environmental and health organizations to adopt Healthy Parks Healthy People and make the following commitment: We commit to further our understanding of, and strengthen the connection between, nature and people. Our success depends on interdisciplinary collaboration and alliances. We as leaders in our field commit to work together to strive for a healthy planet and healthy humanity, and continue to promote, facilitate and advance the health and vitality of the world’s parks and communities. We undertake to rethink our approach to improving human and environmental health and do all in our powers to reconnect people to nature. We adopt the Healthy Parks Healthy People philosophy to protect the earth’s two most important assets – nature and people.”

As a direct result of attending this event and realising the significance, the US National Park Service promptly established its own version (Healthy Parks Healthy People U.S.).

Since that time the NPS together with U.S. Forestry Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Pan American Health Organization have established joint and several fledgling initiatives to incorporate the ‘Health Parks Healthy People’ agenda.

 Europe

The European Cooperation Scientific & Technical Research (COST) report in its 2007 strategic workshop ‘Health and the Natural Outdoors’ had already stated:

There is a convincing but widely dispersed evidence base, confirming the benefits to human health and well-being of close contact with nature, animals and plants.

  • Access to nature should be considered in public health policy in Europe;
  • Access to nature and natural places can be a central theme in promoting contemporary lifestyle-based public health approaches; and
  • Health should be a central theme in urban and land-use planning, for example, in debates about urban densification. Effort spent in developing tools and strategies that integrate healthy lifestyles into urban planning and greenspace management will be well repaid.

Other ongoing global initiatives included the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), which initiated a special task force on Forests and Human Health in 2011, an effort that connects forestry and health science professionals; and the Cooperation on Health and Biodiversity (COHAB) initiative which links biodiversity with human health and well-being within the larger framework of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.

 World Conservation Congress 2012

Impressed by the logic and value of the concept and the impact of the 2010 Congress, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) encouraged a consequential adopted Motion No 46 at the 2012 World Conservation Congress, which recommended:

 IUCN and its constituencies to adopt the Healthy Parks Healthy People philosophy and commit to further understanding of, and strengthen the connection between, nature and people. To work collaboratively with WHO, and other key global bodies, to implement initiatives that deliver both human health and biodiversity outcomes and continue to promote, facilitate and advance the health and vitality of the world’s parks and communities globally. To undertake research and analysis to better develop compelling rationale for the approach to all levels of policies. To forge partnerships and alliances with the health and medical care community to raise recognition of parks and protected areas as a healing tool and a vital source of health and well-being.

Ottawa Charter

The complementary source of direction for public health, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (WHO, Geneva, 1986) identifies three basic strategies for health promotion: advocacy for health to create the essential conditions for health indicated above; enabling all people to achieve their full health potential; and mediating between the different interests in society in the pursuit of health. These strategies are supported by five priority action areas as outlined in the Ottawa Charter:

  • build healthy public policy
  • create supportive environments for health
  • strengthen community action for health
  • develop personal skills, and
  • re-orient health services.

Wingspread Declaration

In the US, the Wingspread Declaration on Health and Nature, July 2014 stated:

 Nature and human well-being are connected: The connection between people and the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit, and survival. Nature is a source of food, clean water, clean air, medicine, shelter, and economic opportunity. Moreover, in order to thrive, humans require direct access to nature. Whether a city park, a community garden, a tree-lined street, or wilderness – nature in people’s daily lives reduces stress, renews the spirit, connects people to each other and increases physical activity. In short, humans are part of nature, our connection with nature is a fundamental human need, and we believe access to nature is a basic right.

 However, large numbers of people – many of them children – are now disconnected from nature. As a direct consequence, people around the world are suffering from substantial health challenges, many of them preventable. Likewise, the natural world faces increased pressures and vulnerability. The human, natural, and economic consequences of these challenges are already enormous.

 This situation calls for placing consideration of the nature-health connection at the center of research, design, and decision-making across multiple fields. Concerted, cooperative action from health, environmental, educational, governmental, and corporate actors is needed to reconnect people with nature and to secure commitment to protecting nature.

European COST

The European Cooperation Scientific & Technical Research (COST) report in its 2007 strategic workshop ‘Health and the Natural Outdoors’ had already stated:

There is a convincing but widely dispersed evidence base, confirming the benefits to human health and well-being of close contact with nature, animals and plants.

  • Access to nature should be considered in public health policy in Europe;
  • Access to nature and natural places can be a central theme in promoting contemporary lifestyle-based public health approaches; and
  • Health should be a central theme in urban and land-use planning, for example, in debates about urban densification. Effort spent in developing tools and strategies that integrate healthy lifestyles into urban planning and greenspace management will be well repaid.

City of London

Green Spaces: The Benefits for London, a report prepared for the City of London Corporation and published in July 2013 concluded:

 Returning to the question ‘What have green spaces ever done for London?’ the strongest evidence currently points to the positive impact they have on the environment and on people’s health and well-being. In addition to helping to counteract major urban sustainability challenges such as atmospheric heating, they provide space for exercise, play, events and ‘getting away from it all’. This is particularly pronounced in larger green spaces.

 It is also important to note that the far reaching environmental and health benefits created by large green spaces in and around London can be enjoyed by all of London’s residents and workers as they are public goods, and ones that contribute to London’s overall ecosystem.

Ecosystem services

Many researchers have come to the conclusion that humans are totally dependent on nature for psychological, emotional and spiritual needs as well as for material needs (food, water, shelter, etc.).

In 2013 the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US produced a workshop report entitled The Natural Environments Initiative that explores how we can – and should – integrate natural elements into city plans to support public health while also providing ecosystem services, or the contributions of natural elements to the quality of human life. It envisions exposure to nature as part of a larger public health strategy captured by the acronym AIM: Advocate (access to nature for health), Invest (in equitable access), and Mediate (engage in translation between disciplines to build support beyond the health sector) – see The Natural Environments Initiative.

In Queensland, the Regional Landscape Strategy group of the State Government worked to include an ecosystem services chapter in the South East Queensland Regional Plan, which in due course gave the concept statutory force through the twon planning regime. But this pioneering work was dropped from the subsequent iteration of the plan.

Human mind and nature intertwined

Our relationship with nature is deeply intertwined with both the human conscious and subconscious mind. Recently there have been concerted attempts to empirically examine the relationship between the human mind and nature.

Research in 2016 showed that when people exercise they release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which acts as a reset switch. It is why we often feel at ease and things are clearer after exercising. The following image shows that after a 20-minute walk there is increased brain activity which is generally associated with happiness – an interesting verification of the synergy between mental and physical health.

This growing global awareness is actually a revival (as will be understood from Narrative 1 of this two-part series) of the importance of green space and nature to cohesive healthy societies. This relationship is symbiotic, but both aspects of the relationship are under threat. In much of Asia the principles of the ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People’ concept are inherent in many of the cultural and spiritual practices but as western lifestyles intrude there is a danger that the influence will be lost.

Today’s rates of urbanisation have no precedent in history. By 2045, over two-thirds of the world’s population will live in towns and cities, with most of that increase taking place in Asia and Africa. As cities expand and new cities are born, the way that urban populations, planners and innovators interact with nature will directly shape global prospects for health, well-being and human development. For the first time ever, more than half of the world’s population already live in cities and can be ‘divorced’ from regular contact with nature. In consequence they are less likely to benefit from and to appreciate the value of biodiversity and the importance of its conservation.

How many of Australians’ own cherished childhood memories relate to nature? Building a tree house, climbing trees, splashing in muddy puddles, fishing with a stick, family picnics – the list is endless. Now societal fears mean that technological games dominate leisure time and children are more often kept indoors; ever-reducing gardens too have become more formal with less play space, inevitably stifling the creativity, imagination, stimulation and activity that previous generations enjoyed from natural environments.

Our technological age has encouraged sedentary lifestyles at both work and leisure – a particular concern with the younger generation increasingly spending more time indoors, never better expressed than in the title of Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder in which he quotes a 4th grader as “I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where the electrical outlets are”!

This situation is occurring at the very time that human populations are increasingly suffering from many non-communicable diseases like obesity, mental ill-health and breakdowns in community cohesion, as well of course the COVID-19 epidemic which has limited travel outdoors.

Climate change, of course, is at the same time altering the ‘outdoors’.

Biodiversity has of course been endangered for some time, with loss of significant species and consequent ecosystem impacts. Even to the less informed, the visual amenity of biodiversity that parks provide is an attraction verified by the significant popularity of ecotourism destinations, which of course in turn creates economic well-being through commercial activity. Yet perversely, biodiversity is itself under increasing threat with widespread clearing of native vegetation and urban development.

For far too long parks have been considered, even by park managers themselves, as ‘nice to have’ but not essential amenities! That situation is changing. More recently there has been a re-awakening to the value of nature. The large number of people using local public parks for exercise and enjoyment during the COVID-19 epidemic of 2020-22 demonstrated their desire to get outdoors, to meet others or to enjoy nature as part of their coping and healing needs.

We are all aware that nature – the presence of living things – makes us feel good. We marvel at how artists and photographers have captured images of landscapes and wildlife. Poets and writers have incorporated these in their highly praised works. We get a thrill out of unexpectedly sighting wildlife, we enjoy a relationship with pets and we are delighted by wonderful scenic views. We use expressions like ‘don’t forget to stop and smell the roses’, indeed we use flowers to celebrate, congratulate and commiserate – all related to emotional experiences. We recognise the need to get a ‘breath of fresh air’ meaning to escape the daily rat race of urban living. More recently the concept of ‘weekend escapes’ has become popular and most of these are to the countryside! These phrases are part of our inherited lexicon. We even get pleasure from just knowing that something natural – a wilderness area, a rare bird – exists, even if we may never experience it, except perhaps on the Discovery Channel or a Sir David Attenborough documentary!

 

Review Status: Pending

Sherbrooke Forest – National icon, urban forest and sanctuary – A case study in bush regeneration

Sherbrooke Forest is an area of 802 hectares and contains three vegetation types; Wet Forest, Damp Forest and Cool Temperate Rainforest. It is surrounded by residential properties, except for part of the eastern edge which borders on farmland.

It contains the stand of Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) nearest to the city of Melbourne, and is a popular tourist destination. One of its greatest attractions is the Superb Lyrebird which are easily heard and observed along the main walking tracks.

Sherbrooke Forest became part of the newly formed Dandenong Ranges National Park in 1987. It was formerly managed by the Forests Commission as a State forest – until 1983. Since 1996, Parks Victoria has managed Sherbrooke Forest as part of the National Park under the auspices of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. A volunteer group, the Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, was formed in 1980 and remains an active group more than forty years later.

Fire, pines and their aftermath

There has not been a major wildfire in the forest since February 1923, when seventy-two percent of the forest was burnt. A small area on the eastern side was burnt in the 1926 wildfire. There was also a fire on Coles Ridge in 1946, which resulted in establishment of a plantation of Monterey Pines (Pinus radiata) by local schools. There was no attempt to regenerate the Mountain Ash. Other areas planted with pines were the O’Donohue Memorial Plantation, the Melbourne High School Plantation and the Sherbrooke Plantation on Ridge Track which was clear-felled in 1977 and replanted with Mountain Ash that year.

The authorities did not act to remove English Ivy in the area of the Sherbrooke Plantation from 1977 and as a result of the disturbance, English Ivy was able to establish and completely overwhelm the lower storey native vegetation, as well as climbing to great heights up the Mountain Ash. The Mountain Ash were only about ten years old when the Friends started removing English Ivy there by hand. This also occurred in other areas where timber was removed from the forest from 1904 until 1927.

In 1985, the Schools Plantation on Coles Ridge Track was removed over three years. Before any felling commenced the English Ivy vines were cut from the trees and the ground ivy was treated with herbicide. This approach was continued when the two remaining pine plantations were removed over the next two years. The slash was burnt and the areas were hand sown with Mountain Ash seed collected from trees within the forest. Thousands of pine seedlings that germinated were hand weeded by the Friends group over the next few years. The photos linked here tell the story.

The same process was used when the two remaining pine plantations were clear-felled, although the Melbourne High School Plantation required supplementary planting due to its shaded location.

Weed control

The Friends group successfully hand-weeded English Ivy from the areas where the pines were removed in the 1970s, as well as an area on the eastern side of the forest where timber was removed from 1904 to 1927. The latter area also needed herbicide control as the soil was mainly clay, making hand-weeding almost impossible, as opposed to the rich mountain loam on the western side of the forest.

Both the areas of forest where English Ivy was the dominant ground cover were not used by lyrebirds, as the dense foliage made contact with the soil impossible. Once the ivy was removed the lyrebirds returned and display mounds were discovered almost immediately. The lyrebirds even used the piles of dead ivy as a source of invertebrates for food, as well as nest construction. The area of ‘dead’ forest was brought to life.

The Friends group commenced a systematic survey of the forest’s vegetation in 1984 to determine areas of environmental weeds within the forest. Unfortunately, the result of this survey revealed that the forest was in a deplorable state. The main weeds found were English Ivy (Hedera helix), Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum), English Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Red Cestrum (Cestrum elegans) and Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus). All of these species were introduced to the Dandenongs via plant nurseries in the early 1900s. The first four species produce a berry-fruit which is eaten by birds. Sycamore Maple has a winged-seed that can be carried many miles into the forest. No weed control except for Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), Angled Onion (Allium triquetrum) and Red Cestrum (Cestrum elegans) had been carried out in the forest for at least forty years.

While environmental weeds such Sweet Pittosporum and English Holly were not recognised as a threat to the indigenous vegetation, the increasing abundance of English Ivy was taking over valuable lyrebird feeding areas. By the time the Friends started work this plant had covered many hectares of ground on both sides of the forest.

Over the next thirty years the Friends systematically poisoned these woody weeds using the drill and fill method. The herbicide used was full-strength glyphosate. Smaller plants of Red Cestrum were removed using a mattock, although some bushes were so large that they were poisoned. The group now carries out follow-up weeding throughout the forest.

Future prospects for weed control

A forest surrounded by residential properties in which environmental weeds are grown will forever have the problem of seeding by birds. Although the local council provides information with regard to these weeds, many residents resist removing them from their gardens.

From survey maps it is possible to see the correlation of weed invasion with proximity to residential gardens. See maps of Sycamore Maple and Cestrum; and of Sweet Pittosporum and English Holly. These weed distribution survey maps are from 1984 (when the survey commenced) to 2001 (when it finished). The group surveyed every second Sunday of every second month over this time. (It always prioritised weed control). Maps also show the abundance of English Ivy in areas disturbed by the planting of Monterey Pine and timber felling: see maps linked here.

Lyrebirds

In 1983, lyrebird numbers were dramatically reduced when eleven birds were killed within a few months. Predation by foxes, wandering domestic dogs and cats were thought to be the cause. Although there was a general outcry by the public, it was not until 1988 that the local council and the then Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands set up a working group to give advice on ways to halt this decline.

Recommendations by the Advisory Committee included registration of cats, a dusk to dawn curfew for cats, and the limiting of two cats and two dogs per property. Altogether, five drafts were submitted to the Council over four years. In June 1991, the Animal Welfare Local Law was finally passed. Although controversial at the time, the law was accepted by most residents. Parks Victoria also instigated a program to poison foxes. Since then, the lyrebird population has stabilised and wallaby numbers in the forest have increased. The Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group monitors lyrebirds throughout the year, as well as holding three dawn surveys during June and July. Young lyrebird chicks are banded while in the nest, so the group can track where they move as adult birds.

The Friends of Sherbrooke Forest and management authorities

This group was formed under the Forests Commission of Victoria in 1980. Work parties were held once a month in areas suggested by the Ranger-in-charge. The group quickly developed a good working relationship with the staff. Once trust had developed on both sides, the group was given permission to work in areas that had been discovered during the Friends vegetation surveys. A ranger always put in an appearance at these work parties and worked alongside the group.

When the Forests Commission of Victoria was dissolved in 1983, the Forester-in Charge at Kallista remained in his position, retiring in 1985. The superseding agency was the Department of Conservation Forests and Lands. The Friends continued to have a good relationship with the new staff. One constant throughout the Friends volunteer work in the forest was the continued presence of the Head Ranger. This individual had started work with the Forests Commission when he was fifteen years old. His final position was Head Ranger of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, until he retired at fifty-five years of age. He now is a regular volunteer with the Friends.

Sambar Deer

In 1996, a member of the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group came face to face with a large Sambar Deer. This was the first actual sighting, though some Friends had wondered what was browsing the lower branches of English Holly in the eastern side of the forest. As their numbers increased, the damage they caused to the native vegetation became more evident. The impacts of deer include long term changes to vegetation and plant communities, such as:

(a)       Browsing of ground ferns along creek corridors causing:

  • compaction of soil on frequently used tracks
  • erosion along creek banks
  • silting and sedimentation in creeks.

(b)       Pruning of lower understorey shrubs such as the native Coprosma quadrifida almost to the ground by deer, resulting in an unnaturally open forest. This means that lyrebirds are more exposed to predators such as foxes and feral cats.

(c)       Trampling of indigenous vegetation resulting in poor regeneration of native species.

(d)       Fouling of water in creeks by deer faeces, possibly introducing viruses that deer are known to carry and creating bogs where they wallow.

(e)       Competing with wallabies and wombats for food.

(f)       Antler rubbing on Sassafras trees resulting in ring-barking and eventual death of the tree.

(g) Destruction of valuable species of vegetation. The Cool Temperate Rainforest Community within the forest is being threatened. Deer tend to follow creeks throughout the forest. Therefore, any damage to creek vegetation will inevitably see the disappearance of this plant community, already threatened in Victoria. Deer browse the fronds of tree-ferns within their reach continually, resulting in their demise.

In 2014, Parks Victoria commenced a deer control program, but used only volunteer shooters from the Sporting Shooters’ Association. After four years it was decided to cease this program as the number of deer being shot in the last year was zero. The Friends have maintained that for the program to be a success it would be necessary to contract professional deer shooters, and close the Park for a period of time until numbers had been reduced.

Conclusion

Although Sherbrooke Forest is a relatively ‘young’ forest as a result of the 1923 wildfire, the threats posed by environmental weeds escaping from residential gardens will be a continuing problem.

A severe storm on 9 June 2021 blew over many mature Mountain Ash and Blackwood trees (Acacia melanoxylon), thus opening up the forest to more light and threatening the Sassafras trees (Atherosperma moschatum) in the Sherbrooke Creek gully. Many of the mature eucalypts would have been home for both possum and owl species.

If deer numbers are not controlled the structure of the forest will inevitably be changed, resulting in the loss of both indigenous flora and fauna.

The State Government must increase funding to improve the natural values of the forest. At present, funding has not been available to replace bridges destroyed by falling trees. Staff numbers are kept to a minimum, resulting on poor compliance of the public, who regularly walk their dogs along the forest tracks. The recent storm will cost thousands to clean up regular walking tracks, let alone to restore the damaged areas.

Like so many volunteer groups, the Friends of Sherbrooke Forest are an ageing group with the majority of active members being in their late seventies. Who will watch over this beautiful forest once they are unable to volunteer?

Further reading

The Friends of Sherbrooke Forest. 2000 & 2008. Sherbrooke Forest – its flora and history.

 

Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Department of Conservation, Forests & Lands. 1989. Weeds of forests, roadsides and gardens : a field guide in colour for students, naturalists and land managers. Belgrave, Victoria.

Freshwater, Vivien. 2020. History of the Friends of Sherbrooke Forest 1980-2020. Friends of Sherbrooke Forest.

Review Status: Pending

World Urban Parks and Knowledge Hub

About

World Urban Parks (WUP) is the international representative body for urban parks, open space and the recreation sector. WUP connects world leaders through key strategic initiatives and champions the benefits and best practice of parks around the world. Its mission is to promote and support effective management and use of urban parks, open space and recreation world-wide. It also aspires to complement and attain the same level of recognition as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which represents protected areas on the world stage. WUP is also a forum for the exchange of ideas on common environmental, social and economic challenges where urban parks, open space and recreation are part of the solution. To achieve this, WUP acts as an umbrella to national associations, which interconnects park agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and research institutes – from the Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe and emerging cities.

Members

In 2018-19 of the 467 individual members to the WUP, the Asia-Pacific region supplied 35% of total members, North America 29% and Europe 27%. Over half (56%) of the 97 organisational members were from park/city agencies, and 24% from national peak bodies/professional associations. Becoming a member opens program and professional development opportunities to improve recreation and parks in community settings and ensures members become part of the WUP mission to build open space and recreation world-wide.

The Significance of Urban Parks

In 2009, for the first time ever, the world’s population became more urban than rural. By 2050, around two-thirds of all people will live in cities and urban populations will grow by more than 2 billion people. Cities are major contributors to climate change. According to UN Habitat, cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, they account for less than 2% of the Earth’s surface. With the implications of climate change for the world’s biodiversity, conservation and protected areas, natural areas are vital to the biodiversity of the world’s unique flora and fauna. It is therefore imperative to ensure cities are liveable and that everyone has access to urban parks and green space.

History of WUP

It is no secret that the interconnectedness and unity of institutions such as WUP, is strengthened through a network of partnerships and affiliations. The concept of WUP came to fruition in 2015 out of a strategic review of the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration (IFPRA) and the International Urban Parks and Green Space Alliance (Parks for Life) in conjunction with other stakeholders.

IFPRA

The IFPRA was a unique international organisation representing and providing a forum for people, organisations and cities managing parks, recreation and conservation. It emerged at the first International Congress of the Institute of Parks Administration in London in 1957. During an open meeting at this Congress, at which there were 742 delegates, 609 from the UK and 133 from other countries, the IFPRA was created.

World Parks Academy

Established in 2013, the World Parks Academy (WPA) is a collaboration between WUP the open space and recreation organisation, and Indiana University, one of the United States’ leading universities in the field of parks, recreation, health and tourism. The IFPRA was absorbed into the WPA in 2015 and united under an international certifying body. The WPA provides competency-based certification and training programs for parks and recreation professionals worldwide. The WUP is also affiliated with WPA, through certification programs with Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and the USA.

Strategic Direction

WUP is constituted (World Urban Parks Constitution) as a non-governmental, non-profit membership-based peak body. From commencement on 1 April 2015, initial directors were appointed from full members. The Board and the Executive developed clear strategic directions for World Urban Parks, resulting in the World Urban Parks Strategic Statement 2018 . The WUP’s strategic priorities fall under four main themes:

  • Advocacy
  • Alliances
  • Collaboration
  • Membership.

The Strategic Statement aims to achieve responsibilities regarding World Urban Parks’ contribution to the United Nations Sustainability Goals. The primary goals to which World Urban Parks directly contribute include:

  • Good Health and Well-being
  • Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • Climate Action
  • Life below Water
  • Life on Land
  • Partnerships for the Goals.

Key Achievements and Initiatives

The Melbourne Statement  

On the policy front, WUP has been actively promoting the value and benefits of urban parks and green spaces through the development of The Melbourne Statement (2018) in response to the World Urban Parks congress that lays out key principles in conjunction with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the statement, the Melbourne 2018 International Parks and Leisure Congress (IPLC) in partnership with Parks and Leisure Australia focused on addressing the pressing global impact and challenges that urban growth and density will have on the future. It outlined many of the challenges, but also addressed how the sector can comprehensively respond to ensure that open spaces are protected, communities improved, and lifestyles enhanced.

The Statement of Collaboration  

At the International Parks and Leisure Congress in Melbourne, hosted by Parks and Leisure Australia, World Urban Parks and the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas entered a Statement of Collaboration. This Statement of Collaboration between WUP and the IUCN aims to advance a shared vision for inspiring and empowering people from all walks of life around the world to nurture and connect with nature, parks, and protected areas in and around urban areas.

World Urban Parks Congress

Among many of the initiatives developed by WUP is the World Urban Parks Congress. The Congress of city and community leaders, park professionals, partners, affiliates, and engaged citizens meets annually under the shared goal of advancing parks through intentional successful strategies. Emerging issues under discussion at the 2020 Tirana Congress and the 2021 virtual World Congress include the legacy for cities and communities in the face of global challenges from COVID19 to Climate Change.

Case Study – World Urban Parks Congress in Kazan, Russia (2019)

Kazan is a Russian city and the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Kazan is identified as a growing, dynamic city with significant opportunities for improved liveability; Kazan has already been placed in the top 10 most sustainably developed cities in the Russian Federation.

Since 2016 the Institute for Urban Development of the Republic of Tatarstan has been implementing the Program for the Development of Public Spaces, under which more than 300 parks, embankments, pedestrian streets, public gardens and squares in all municipal districts of the region were improved.

The principles of sustainable development are reflected in Kazan’s long-term development strategies — from transport, housing and energy- saving technologies to the support of park, cultural and social programs.

Access World Urban Parks Congress Report for a debrief and review of the World Urban Congress Report, Kazan (2019).

Emerging Urban Leaders Program

Another program affiliated with WUP is the Emerging Urban Leaders Program , which addresses the growing demand for access to nature in urban spaces. The program is designed to create and build connections with urban leaders. An emerging urban leader is one who is new to urban parks work, has an idea but not a platform to build upon or is changing careers. Launched in 2021, this initiative has already created a network that includes architects, urban planners, community organisers, policymakers and conservationists, who are matched with mentors to develop innovative solutions and quality cities of the future. The program runs for 12 months with the goal of establishing two-hour monthly working meetings for cohort members to collaborate together.

Knowledge Hub

The World Urban Parks Knowledge Hub (the ‘Knowledge Hub’) is an international platform that supports and informs policy, planning, decision making and contemporary good practices in urban parks. The Knowledge Hub highlights current and emerging themes in the sector, linking international guidelines with research and fostering collaboration among leading agencies and organisations. The Knowledge Hub also houses information on Parks of the World. The Knowledge Hub is initially divided into three sectors: Research and Knowledge, Yardstick Parks, and Parks of the World . The Knowledge Hub also promotes good practice and encourages the sharing of information and knowledge and supports approaches to benchmarking and setting standards such as Yardstick.

Review Status: Pending

Tread Lightly!

Tread Lightly! (Australia) was a community organisation established to promote responsible use of outdoor recreation sites by users. Queensland public servant Neil Ames has assembled this narrative, based upon recollections of the late John Wood, who was president for 10 years.

The model came from the United States where Tread Lightly (US) is still very alive and functional: see https://www.treadlightly.org/. Its mission has been “Promoting responsible recreation through stewardship, education and communication. Plus, we get out there and live it.” Tread Lightly (US) originated from the US Forest Service which wanted to partner with recreational users of forests to minimise recreation-related impacts resulting from all types of outdoor activities including off-road vehicles (mountain biking, bushwalking, camping, fishing, hunting etc).

Jan and Ivan Scudamore introduced the program into Australia in the early 1990s. Jan was Executive Officer of Tread Lightly (Australia) from its inception and the driving force. Tread Lightly (Australia) had a board and three chairmen over the ~10 years of operation, namely Brian Woodward, Rob Seymore and John Wood. Jan was also a board member of Tread Lightly (USA) and acquired a quantity of educational, training, promotional, research, management and operational material from the US Forest Service and the Off Highway Vehicle Association of USA.

Eventually it was decided to close Tread Lightly (Australia) down due to lack of financial support.

After an interregnum in the offices of Sport and Recreation Queensland based in Toowoomba, the collection of physical resources was secured by PaRC and many items scanned. The materials are not saved in a single digital location in the library, as the library is based on a keyword search engine, but the items that are not copyright are now accessible to all.

Review Status: Pending

Hobbies and leisure pursuits accommodated in Australian parks – 1994 view

This narrative has been edited from a draft written for an international audience in October 1994 by Peter Nicholls, Trustee of the AIPR Trust Fund-Education. The term “parks” refers to both urban and non-urban parks.

Background

Australia is approximately the same size as the United States of America but has a population of only around 17 million people. Yet it is one of the world’s most urbanised communities, with the large majority of its peoples living on the east coast and approximately half of the population living in just two cities – Sydney and Melbourne. Also, it has been traditional for the typical Australian family to live in a bungalow style of home with a front and back area of private open space. It is however increasingly common for people to prefer high density or medium density housing.

Australians have an image of being sun-bronzed and weathered people who prefer the ‘great outdoors’. The impression that kangaroos and koalas are commonplace sights in metropolitan areas of Australia is still widely held among people of the northern hemisphere. While it may be a fact that Australians are, in reality, highly urbanised and as highly diverse in their interests as the people of other nations, they do have an innate affiliation with the countryside. But it is a harsh and often unforgiving countryside (known to Australians as ‘the bush’ or the more remote areas ‘the outback’). Yet it is a countryside of unimaginable beauty, which draws people from all walks of life, Australians and overseas visitors alike.

These facts are important background knowledge to understand the Australian culture in relation to its use of parks for recreation and leisure pursuits.

Urban parks

The earliest settlers in Australia (after arrival of Indigenous peoples perhaps 60,000 years ago) were from Britain and Europe. They found great difficulty in coming to terms with the fact of Australia’s general dry and harsh climate. This difficulty was reflected in the fact that the settlers preferred to create something of the soft lush greenery of their homelands in their development of gardens and local public open space. The typical urban park has therefore traditionally been designed along the lines of the English or European park, with large areas of manicured turf, bordered by trees and flower beds. The American parks specialist, Seymour Gold, on a trip to one of Australia’s more congenial cities, Adelaide, was heard to remark that it was the ‘mowing capital of the world’.

Whereas the main uses of the traditional ‘English-style’ park have been sitting and contemplation, the more modern park better reflects the Australian culture both in its design and its usage. Australians are now coming to recognise their country for its own special form of beauty. This is increasingly evident in parks design with greater use of brown areas, drought resistant turfs and native flora.

The ways in which urban parks are used have diversified in parallel with a growing Australian appreciation of the wide range of available recreation opportunities. Organisations such as Life. Be In It (a highly successful Australia-wide program aimed at promoting the benefits of fitness and increased activity through a ‘soft sell’ approach) has done much to bring people out to their parks for unstructured family activities such as kite flying, ball games, walking, cycling, jogging and swimming. In particular, the phenomenon of seeing hundreds of people participating in ‘Life Games’ did much to give people a new appreciation of the joys of visiting their local park.

The use of parks for public festivals has also grown in popularity. Ethnic festivals, food and drink festivals, Australian adaptations of European festivals such as the German Scheutzenfest in Adelaide, open air orchestral concerts, Christmas Carols by Candlelight evenings and free public rock music concerts are just a few examples of how urban parks are being used throughout Australia.

A modem trend in park design has been the development of linear parks. These generally follow natural corridors such as rivers or creeks, or where the opportunity arises, disused railway reserves. Linear parks suit modem leisure trends in which people look to walking, cycling, jogging, roller skating and the like as enjoyable forms of activity. Linear parks provide a means of getting from one place to another, variety in surroundings and, where they follow a natural corridor, they stimulate the modem interest in understanding and enhancing the natural environment.

Linear parks are succeeding in bringing Australians out of their houses and private gardens and encouraging them to better know and understand their neighbourhood. Creeks are again becoming status symbols instead of eyesores to be concreted and filled. Bird watching and fishing along local waterways is an emerging neighbourhood activity. Indeed it is true to say that linear parks are proving to be valuable media for community development as people who are out walking seem far more inclined to say ‘hullo’ to each other.

Regrettably, modem trends are also resulting in an increasing public perception of urban parks as being places of danger because of a perceived increase in anti-social activities taking place in parks. Public toilets in parks are avoided (and often closed) for fear of confronting antisocial activities. Fear of muggings, stabbings or bashings, excessive drinking and drug-taking are other negative reputations of urban parks which cause the general population to avoid them, particularly after dark. There is general agreement among parks managers that these fears are more a matter of perception than fact but the impact on usage is strong.

Non-urban parks

Non-urban parks are managed by a variety of agencies, most of which are in the public sector. They include the national parks and wildlife service, woods and forests agencies, water management agencies, coastal management agencies, local councils and agencies generally responsible for unallotted public lands (known as Crown land). There are also large tracts of public land – usually in the more remote regions – leased for private farming and pastoralism but still sometimes open to public access, subject to conditions. (Conditions differ between the various state-based regimes).

Most Australians have a yearning to get away from the pressures of the city life from time to time and enjoy the attractions of the Australian countryside. These getaways vary in length and intensity from the popular family drive in the car and picnic in the nearby countryside to longer and more hazardous treks into the outback.

The distances that people travel into the countryside varies but is mostly limited to the need to be home before dark. Throughout hinterlands within 1-3 hours driving time of metropolitan areas, picnic areas are abundant. One study of visitor patterns at a popular rural picnic area showed that people tended to arrive from about 11 am and the area was constantly busy until about 3 pm. By 3.30 pm the area was all but deserted.

A characteristic of Australians is that, while they enjoy the sensation of ‘roughing it in the bush’ they prefer to do so within sight of the family car. Thus problems arise in creating the illusion of a rough bush setting while providing nearby car parking. This conflict also increases environmental damage as recreationists strive to enjoy the comforts of the car with a rustic experience.

The recreation opportunities sought by the ‘day tripper’ are many and varied with the most popular being simply to drive for pleasure, using picnic areas to stop for lunch and to allow the family to get some fresh air and exercise. Short walking trails (up to an hour’s duration) are popular and opportunities to see native wildlife in safe surroundings are a strong attraction. The ubiquitous shop selling ice cream and confectionery is further evidence of the popularity of parks which combine an outdoors experience with the comforts of home.

Parks near metropolitan areas often provide a range of urban recreation facilities such as tennis courts, playground equipment, barbecues, shelter sheds, sporting ovals and seating. There is an increasing tendency to charge an entry fee into these areas – a practice which is better accepted by the public if they believe that the money collected is being put directly back into the development of that area rather than into a general revenue fund.

Travel to a rural site where it is necessary to stay overnight or longer is also highly popular. Traditionally, Australian park management agencies have provided somewhat crude camping facilities in the belief that this is what the typical Australian camper is seeking. Agencies are now beginning to acknowledge a huge and growing market for rural experiences in good quality camping and caravanning sites and that users are prepared to pay for quality.

In more remote parks, the public seeks natural recreation experiences such as bushwalking, fishing, boating, sightseeing, bird watching, camping, viewing wildlife, nature studies and photography or painting. There is also a high demand for activities which are, to a greater or lesser degree, incompatible with the natural environment. These include trail horse-riding, car rallies, trailbike riding, power boating and offroad vehicle activities.

These latter activities highlight the fact that while the Australian countryside has a rugged image that people from other countries often perceive as being harsh and unforgiving, some natural landscapes such as water frontages are quite fragile. Funding adequate to allow park managers to control (as unobtrusively as possible and notably through park design) for recreational and leisure use is essential.

National parks are of course intended to preserve and enhance the worthier natural areas of a country and are therefore highly appropriate destinations for the growing world demands for eco-tourism opportunities. In fact by world standards Australia is slow to capture its rightful share of the ecotourism market. Some specific localities are capturing the interest of overseas visitors, such as the Great Barrier Reef off the north Queensland coast and Ayers Rock (Uluru National Park) in Central Australia. Kakadu National Park of Crocodile Dundee fame is another area gaining overseas popularity. However the potential of so many other magnificent areas of Australia’s unique natural environment are still Australia’s best kept secrets in the world ecotourism market.

Conclusion

Parks – urban and non-urban – symbolise the Australian love of the outdoors. To date they have been developed in ways that have tended to reflect the perceived traditional purpose of parks as places to look at and meditate in. It is pleasing to see that modem parks managers are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that there is a huge untapped potential to develop ‘people purpose parks’ which not only cater for outdoor recreation needs but truly reflect Australian cultural values and leisure demands.

Review Status: Pending

Parkland surrendered at time of subdivision

In the late 1990s, the planning profession in Australia became enthusiastic about performance-based planning, by which applicants for development were supposed to justify their projects in terms of satisfaction of idealised principles, as distinct from the prescriptive planning by which applicants hitherto were required to satisfy detailed or at least specified standards. Whether by design or as an unintended consequence, this shift has been beneficial to the property industry as it placed local government officers and public servants on the defensive in attempting to condition developments so that ample public space is brought into public ownership to cater for the needs of new residents.

Practice between local governments and between states has long been disparate. In Victoria, the legislation specified a minimum charge and some local governments used the provision to extract large tracts of open space. For example, the  Shire of Sherbrooke negotiated sometimes as much as 90% open space contribution, in steep or fire-prone localities of the Dandenong Ranges (such as became the Selby Bushland Reserve). By contrast, in Queensland prior to 1997, legislation specified a maximum statutory charge, reflecting the state’s pro-development ethos.

In developing localities, it’s vital that sufficiently large corridors of land are reserved for public purposes and it’s particularly important that floodplains, wetlands and ridgelines be reserved from incompatible development and (in the case of watercourses) to allow space for soft engineering works to manage stormwater.

The Land Planning Branch of the Queensland Department of Natural Resources sought to draft some guidelines for planning officers in local governments and departmental staff in dealing with development applications. The intention was to provide an authoritative benchmark to fortify officers in negotiations with developers and even perhaps in court. Jeremy Addison, a qualified planner and an officer of the Department, produced a draft working paper that was not considered finalised and was not published by the Department. It is replete with references to the statutory planning and land tenure legislation in operation in Queensland in the late 1990s-early 2000s, after the passage of the (now superseded) Integrated Planning Act 1997. It is included here because there are few known similar guidelines in public circulation and so the paper has contemporary value beyond historical interest. Its shortcomings should not be attributed to Mr Addison.

 

The “Parkland Surrender” paper addresses how much land should be offered up for public purposes in new subdivisions like this site of a proposed estate at Caboolture West, South East Queensland.

 

Surrender by developers is not the only method and perhaps not the most effective method of securing public open space. Melbourne’s metropolitan parks system, including Petty’s demonstration orchard at Templestowe, was funded by a general “metropolitan improvement” rate.

 

Some notes

In Queensland, performance-based planning was introduced in the Integrated Planning Act 1997, modelled on the Resource Management Act of New Zealand, although without any provisions for allocating (privatising) state land or mineral assets.

Previous legislation had specified that land taken at subdivision was to be surrendered to the Crown and then (usually) reserved for public purposes with the local government being invited to serve as trustee. Local governments objected to this safety net provision which provided a brake against disposal of the parkland, because (they argued) it was easier to rationalise their park holdings and sell isolated pockets if held as freehold. Yes, small pockets of land are inherently more expensive to maintain than a comparable acreage added to a large district park, but they are serving a different clientele.

It has been argued that land surrendered at subdivision is a tax upon the future residents, so only land of benefit to them should be taken; in other words government has no right to levy developers on behalf of users in a regional or or remote catchment. However, subdivision is a privilege, not a right, and a district- or regional-scale surrender is appropriate, so long as the levy is for a public interest purpose and is permitted by the legislation. (The precise wording of the legislation is critical).

Invitation to planners and landscape designers

Critical feedback is invited from any person with survey or planning expertise and who would like to collaborate with PaRC in building the working paper Parkland Surrender at Time of Subdivision into a modern guideline applicable across Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands. Please contact parc@parcaustralia.com.au. PaRC would also like to know of other comparable current or historical guidelines that can be re-published here.

 

Review Status: Pending

Sport knowledge – the Australian Clearinghouse

The Australian Clearinghouse for Sport is the pre-eminent information and knowledge-sharing platform for Australian sport.

The Clearinghouse brings together Australia’s leading sport and active recreation agencies, using Sport Australia as the principal information coordinator, to share news, evidence and insights about sport, human performance and physical activity. The Clearinghouse works to:

  • Identify and acquire information of relevance to the Australian sport and active recreation sectors;
  • connect people in sport and active recreation with complementary expertise;
  • inform Australian sport practitioners (such as athletes, coaches, physical educators, scientists, medical providers, researchers, administrators, students, facility managers, policy makers, volunteers, and sporting officials) about good and promising practice in sport and active recreation;
  • provide Australian governments at all levels with comprehensive and policy relevant analysis of research relating to sport and active recreation, and its value to the community; and
    Provide Clearinghouse members with high quality information on sport, physical activity and active recreation.

The Clearinghouse is a central access point for knowledge about the Australian sport sector and for communication between sportspeople and sporting organisations. It is an entity of the Australian Sports Commission, itself an agency of the Australian Government. Access its website https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/ here.

Given the existence of the Clearinghouse and its focus on ‘active’ recreation and sport, the PaRC document library and the PaRC narratives website have purposely focused on ‘passive’ recreation and park management, although of course no clear distinction can be maintained.

Review Status: Pending

Open Space Planning in SEQ – 1994-2021

More than 25 years after the creation of a regional open space network was recommended in the SEQ2001 Regional Plan, South East Queensland does not have a regional park system or any coordinated network of recreational open space worth the name. The narrative of what-might-have-been is a story of opportunities lost, at least three times over.

 

Purlingbrook Falls adjacent to the rainforest purchased under ROSS in 1994 – G. Edwards

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Review Status: Pending