Back to Top

Category: Management and governance

contract management; project planning; risk assessment; use of technology in planning and management; sustainable management

World Urban Parks and Knowledge Hub


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.


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.


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 (103MB). 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) (note: not the same as the Melbourne Communique) 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

The World Urban Parks Congress is a signature activity of the WUP. 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. See World Urban Parks Congress dedicated page.

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

Vic/Tas launch of PaRC – 9 June 2023

A public launch of Parks and Recreation Collection was a feature of the Vic/Tas regional conference of Parks and Leisure Australia, held at Healesville on 8, 9 June 2023. Thanks to Regional President Dan Ferguson for facilitating.

Address by PaRC Secretary Geoff Edwards offers a situation report on PaRC:

Preamble, Flyer and Scope of Accessions (superseded – see December 2023 version)

Form for expressing interest – a call for volunteers of time and documents.


PaRC is a tool for anyone in Australasia involved in parks, open space or leisure – we look forward to comparable showcasing in the other States.


Review Status: Pending

Ranger Uniforms and Emblems

In the early 1970s, mission brown and yellow were the colours chosen for signs and other labelling by the National Parks Service in Victoria. This revealed some USA influence. A decision was taken in the early 1970s to shift to olive green and cream. Notes of a Rangers’ Training Course held at Kiata in the Little Desert in 1973 indicate that a green uniform was modelled.

Uniform emblems from Victoria 1961-75 and Queensland 1978.


Ron Turner, Ranger in both Victoria and from 1978 Queensland (see his memoir First Ranger in the Document Library), writing for PaRC in 2023, has supplied the following recollection:

“When I joined the National Parks Authority in 1961 rangers were issued with clothing made by the Cushen Clothing Company of Melbourne. Shirts and a dress jacket carried a shoulder patch on each side. The jacket was never popular with rangers who often commented on its inadequacy. Issued clothing included both dress and working shirts with a brown tie, and both long trousers and shorts. Wet weather clothing, and a rubber-soled golf shoe and/or riding boot were supplied on an annual request basis. Complementing the uniform was a scout commissioner’s type of hat. The only good thing about this hat was the shade afforded but it was so stiff it could only be worn quite flat. There was no tilting it or pulling it down to reflect personality; it was an awful thing to wear. To make the point at one stage one of the country rangers pulled it down onto the Director’s head!


“Having been superseded more than 40 years ago, these uniforms would now be collectors’ items.


“The Victorian rangers had formed a Victorian National Parks Rangers’ Association of which I was the Secretary. The issue of a better uniform was often to the forefront of our discussions and we were modestly active in evaluating styles of clothing and colours, even viewing uniforms as made by various manufacturers. We had also opted to have the Wedge-tailed Eagle as an emblem for shoulder patches, etc.

“I had been to the first ever NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service conference held at Royal National Park, Sydney, in 1967, and been very impressed with the style and colour of their brand new uniform with its lyrebird insignia.

“Dr. L.H.Smith, the then Director of the renamed National Parks Service diplomatically led with his concept of having the kangaroo as the official emblem. The rangers, as a group, felt the kangaroo was already vastly ‘overdone’ on commercial logos and ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo’ had not long been released on television. Our efforts were not entirely in vain for I was asked if I would ‘model’ a uniform as proposed by the National Parks Service at our forthcoming annual training course. In due course my measurements were taken at the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory. In 1973 the training course was held in the controversial Little Desert National Park area and I fronted the conference in this new uniform, complete with a softer, more appropriate hat.

“As far as I was aware the above uniform was the only one of its kind ever made and those six metal buttons must now be ‘scarcer than hen’s teeth’!”

Cream-on-green later replaced sunflower-on-mission brown (but the colour in the image below is somewhat duller than the original).


A 1996 sign manual for Queensland‘s Department of Natural Resources (forestry and forests recreation) will be made available in PaRC as soon as scanning is complete.



Review Status: Pending

Managing the Planning & Provision of Leisure and Recreation Opportunities in Australia

The attached file is the 2016 6th edition of Dr Ken Marriott’s leisure planning book, Managing the Planning and Provision of Leisure and Recreation Opportunities in Australia.  This was initially published by the Tasmanian Government in 2010. Dr Marriott advises: “I have full permission to use it and amend it from the Tasmanian Government.  It was commissioned by Sport and Recreation Tas as the course text for a VET diploma course I developed for them, Diploma of Management (Recreation Planning). Over 3-4 full courses between 2008-16, it was attended by around 50 mature-age students from Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and SA between 2008 and 2016.  As you will see from the title page, the book also became the course text for a 2nd/3rd year recreation planning and policy course that I ran for many years as a sessional lecturer at Victoria University.

“The 2016 book forms the basis of my 2021 book with Tower and McDonald (Routledge UK). For Australian users, it is a far better book than the 2021 UK  publication as it has a solely Australian focus and much of the very specific case material had to be deleted for the UK publication.”


Supporting materials for recreation studies at undergraduate years 2 and 3 levels.

Review Status: Pending

Leisure management and the World Leisure Organisation

Leisure management is the means by which organisations manipulate their resources to deliver leisure programs, facilities and services to stakeholders and the general community. The programs, facilities and services fall within the range of leisure, recreation, sport, tourism and the events industry within the mixed economy of leisure provided by government, non-profit, commercial organisations and households. A particular characteristic of the mixed economy of leisure is the capacity for government, non-profit and commercial organisations to collaborate in program, facility and service delivery.


World Leisure Organisation

The World Leisure Organisation (WLO) is an international body parallel in scope to World Urban Parks, one focused on activities, the other on places. WLO’s Leisure Management Special Interest Group, co-chaired by Dr John Tower of Victoria University and Dr Jo An Zimmemann-Somoza, has a wealth of information relevant to Australasian leisure managers. The information included leisure management webinars and regular news items.



Review Status: Pending

Management Perspective on Parks and Recreation in Australia – 1994 view, for IFPRA

In 1994, an approach was received from IFPRA ‘s to produce essays for a proposed international book on parks and recreation. The correspondence from IFPRA and from Australia’s Commissioner Peter Harrison is here.

Draft articles by David Aldous (Management perspective on parks and recreational open space in Australia) and Peter Nicholls (Hobbies and leisure pursuits accommodated in Australian parks – 1994 view) are here. They are of historical interest as snapshots of professional thinking at the time.

Review Status: Pending

Multiple Use Management Planning of State Forests

During the 1990s in Queensland, guidelines were developed by policy officers for management planning of broad acre State forests with the intention of achieving multiple (and sometimes conflicting) objectives. Championed by forestry officer Brett Waring, a comprehensive kit was developed and advocated around the State. Implementation suffered through repeated departmental restructures and downsizing of the staff in engaged in non-commercial forestry. This leaflet explains the process. The “Department of Natural Resources” attribution dates it to after the 1996 restructure of departments.

Review Status: Pending

International Federation of Parks and Recreation Associations

As outlined in the post on World Urban Parks, IFPRA was established in May 1957, in London, UK, at 1st World Congress in Park Administration, as International Federation of Park Administration — Fédération internationale de l’administration de parcs. It ceased in April 2015 when it merged into World Urban Parks. This membership leaflet positions the organisation.

The aims of IFPRA were: “Unite at international level persons employed in horticultural and recreational services and public, provincial and communal administration; adopt internationally acceptable training and qualification standards; distribute information regarding the profession.”

The website of the Union of International Associations explains IFPRA’s organisational structure:

“General Assembly (at Congress) elect a Governing Commission, comprising elected officers, chairmen of each regional sector and one representative of each member nation. Executive Committee; General Secretary. Regional chapters: IFPRA Europe and IFPRA Asia Pacific; they produce their own congresses and publications.”

IFPRA Asia-Pacific was founded on 1 May 1989 at Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.

We will post more material on IFPRA as it emerges from the archives. Also see the Document Library and enter “IFPRA” for some IFPRA publications.

IFPRA Management Publication

In 1994, IFPRA  conceived of a “Management publication” with the objectives as outlined in this correspondence. The archives have uncovered an article by eminent parks identity David Aldous, apparently an unedited first draft of a submission for the book.

IFPRA Administration

The minutes of the World Commission of IFPRA dated 2000 show that Dr David Aldous was world President.


Review Status: Pending

Advice for Park Rangers

The essential roles of a ranger in a public park haven’t changed much in decades: protecting the natural environment and managing public visitors. But the world of rangering in 2023 seems quite different than in 1984 when this “Ten Mottos for a Successful Park Ranger” was delivered to parks outdoors staff in the Metropolitan Parks of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. The use of the masculine “his” to cover park visitors in general now seems quaint. The overall tone now seems rather patronising, given that many parks staff were (and in most public authorities are) old hands with extensive outdoor experience. However, the list should be understood in the context of the objectives of the period, which were to improve the self-reliance of outdoor staff and their confidence in their roles; and to decentralise decision-making in the interests of minimising administrative overheads.

A Ranger’s perspective: XXXX, an early-career Park Assistant and recipient of this homily in 1984, now an XXXX in Parks Victoria, writes: (to be completed)…..


See also Metropolitan Park Policies, MMBW, 1975

Review Status: Pending

Trends in parks and recreation in Australia – as perceived in 1994

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. Many of the trends are highly operative in the early 2020s.

The impact of change

Alvin Toffler, in his book The Third Wave suggested that the world is going through a “Third Wave” of development. The first wave was the agrarian revolution which took thousands of years, the second wave was the Industrial Revolution, which took about 100 years, and the third wave is a sort of ‘Information Technology’ revolution which is changing the face of the world in just a few short decades. This is creating a huge impact on management in all sectors, including parks and recreation. Not only must managers cope with change but with an accelerating rate of change.

It is in this frame that we need to assess the trends affecting parks and recreation in Australia. Much of Australia’s parks and recreation management is delivered within the public sector and we have to accept that governments have rarely been proactive at dealing with change. This inherent conservatism justifies grave fundamental concern about the future of parks and recreation management in this country (and elsewhere in the world). Governments need to fundamentally review how they can effectively rise to the challenges of a world of rapid change.

An aspect requiring carefully assessment is the role of the private sector in parks and recreation and the scope for increasing public and private sector partnership. I shall discuss this further, later in the narrative.

Major trends

What are the major trends affecting the future of parks and recreation management in Australia? I suggest that they include the following:

  • the substantially reduced availability of funds for public sector activities and the impact which this is having on the need for greater efficiency in the delivery of parks and recreation;
  • a trend towards greater centralisation of control over available government funding;
  • increasing concern about the health of the natural environment; and
  • an expanding role for the private sector in the provision of recreation opportunities, either in its own right or in partnership with the public sector.

Whether these trends will continue relates less to the level of available funding and more to the extent to which these practices meet the challenge of rapid change. We are only now beginning to recognise the enormity of the challenge in coping with changing circumstances (internal and external).


Although the most recent period of economic recession is now [1994] behind us, it has had a strong influence on funding allocated for parks and recreation. The current trend is to substantially reduce government sector spending, in favour of encouraging free enterprise in the private sector. Whether or not this trend will continue is difficult to say as there is evidence within the currently centrist [Keating Labor] national government (known as the Commonwealth Government of Australia) of a swing back to increased public sector spending. Given that under the Australian Constitution the national government has little direct responsibility for parks and recreation – these being reserved to the states and, by delegation from them, to local governments – this trend is not yet benefiting our profession. Note however my comments later on the greater centralisation in government controls.

The need for visions, missions, goals

The terms in this heading are clichés which have been bandied around by management consultants for a long time. The pity of it is that we have yet to realise how important it is to settle them if we are to progress through this era of rapid change.

Procedures come and go in times of change. The greater hope of stability lies in definitions of what we want to achieve. A simple example (to explain but not to achieve) is a vision of ‘wanting equal opportunities for all people to have access to the recreation opportunities of their choice’. The aim is clear and no amount of rapid change will alter that ideal. What will alter is the procedures and resources for achieving that aim. We need to identify our visions and agree to stick to them. With our visions clear, we can then put change to our advantage in our efforts to achieve our visions.

The future of our heritage

Why speak of heritage in a paper on future trends, particularly a future which is subject to turbulent changes? It is important to remember that our world has been built on our heritage. Whatever the world of the 21st century might produce, to be reminded of the heritage on which it is based will aid stability.

The word ‘heritage’ has some political status in Australia (notably by national and state government in the context of regulatory protection of assets) but the power it wields is more one of accommodating political forces than any real sense of pride in and protection of the physical assets and social influences on which the modern world has been built. Relevant to parks and recreation, there is little doubt that Australia’s international image is built very much on its natural heritage of wild places, beaches, flora and fauna. We speak of world heritage lists of places in Australia – unique natural areas – which need to be protected. Yet we are obliged to continually combat the economic mindset which views all areas as fair game for mining and logging.

Clearly a basic task of the parks and recreation profession is to ensure that all Australians have adequate and accessible opportunities to appreciate their country’s natural heritage. Ecotourism is beginning to be accepted as one of the great ways of attracting tourists to Australia. But also we appreciate the need to preserve those attractions in the face of the disturbance that tourism development brings to those natural areas.

On the urban and near-urban scene, one positive trend is the increasing awareness of the need to preserve creeks, rivers and streams as greenways. People are keen to see linear parks and nature corridors, either just to allow them to enjoy nature or as a means of travelling from one place to another (e.g. from home to the shops or school). Walkways, cycleways and (rural) horseriding paths are booming and it is likely that this trend will continue.

National programs

As mentioned earlier, there is little national political interest in parks and recreation other than during periodic controversies about the effects of particular development proposals on the natural environment; and periodic complaints by the environmental movement about underfunding of park management.

The fact is that the professional interests of parks and recreation managers and those of the national politicians are still far apart. However, if and when our national government decides to take seriously the fact that we are heading for an environmental disaster, their interests and those of parks and recreation management are much more likely to converge.


There is in Australia a trend towards greater centralisation of control over public funding. The national government has been the sole collector of income tax in Australia since the Second World War. Traditionally the national government has given large untied grants to state and local governments. In recent years such funds have been greatly reduced and that which is granted is increasingly subjected to conditions of use – ‘tied grants’. [The introduction of a goods and services tax in 2000 significantly increased the flow-on payments to states, but the author’s point about predilection for tied grants remains valid].

Given that the national government has little responsibility for parks and recreation issues (except in the Territories), this trend to greater fiscal centralisation is likely to increasingly add to the woes of parks and recreation professionals at the state and local government level as they seek to gain the funds vital to the needs of their work.

The Role of The Private Sector

The era of ‘economic rationalism’ [Australian term for neoliberal economic policy, dating from 1983] has brought extensive outsourcing of parks and recreation operations, but less thoughtful attention to how private enterprise and the visions of the parks and recreation professional can mutually benefit. There is an inherent tension between the need for private firms to extract a short-term profit and the long-term ideals of the public sector, which chronically lacks the resources needed to bring those ideals to reality. Successful mutual partnerships are known. The professional associations offer a major avenue for strengthening these partnerships.

In local government, where the bulk of public sector expenditure on parks and recreation occurs, the contemporary squeeze on public funding is resulting in a growth of the practice of compulsory competitive tendering for parks and recreation services. It is interesting to hear that while this practice is now well-established in Great Britain, there is growing evidence that it is not working and the policy pendulum may swing back (but to what?).

Already widespread in Australia is the practice of contracting services out to private firms, both in maintaining parks and gardens and in the management of recreation facilities. Contracting out saves the council much in the highly expensive areas of staffing and capital machinery. Indeed, there are examples in private enterprise where the major part of the work has been contracted out, leaving only those people who have the expertise which is unique to the organisation.

The management of leisure centres (wet and dry) is heavily swinging towards the private sector as councils see the benefits of being seen to provide a service to the community at a much reduced cost to the ratepayer. The community is generally accepting except there are those who are still concerned that social justice principles may be ignored in favour of the user-pays principles. Rather than talking of ‘user pays’, we need to be asking ‘who pays?’ This line of questioning opens all the options available along the continuum from total funding through rates and taxes (rare these days) to various proportions of public and private sharing of the costs (of which the user is only one of many possible funding sources).

Parks and recreation organisations In Australia

There is a need for a new form of communication between politicians and parks and recreation professionals and for improved decision-making procedures which are more responsive to the issues which are rapidly emerging in the field.

At present a plethora of professional associations cover the provision and maintenance of parks and recreation assets and services. None can claim to be influential in the affairs of public administration. These associations should consider consolidation as they face the challenge of remaining viable while having a small member base in contrast to the sophisticated mass marketing of private enterprise upon which these organisations depend for sponsorship.

The Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation took the lead and set up a process through which the many related associations in Australia could meet and discuss the potential mutual benefits of establishing a new major organisation along the lines of the British Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management and the American National Recreation and Parks Association.

The new organisation Parks and Leisure Australia has the potential to influence the above-mentioned trends – reduced public sector funding, expanding role of parks and recreation in improving the health of the natural environment, and strengthening the links between the public and private sectors.


It seems that pendulums of societal change are swinging ever more rapidly. Professionals and practitioners in the parks and recreation sector need a clear understanding of the visions they should be pursuing and be prepared to effectively use whatever trends present themselves in the cause of turning those visions into reality.

Review Status: Pending