Back to Top

Trevor Arthur – forester, parks manager, innovator, professional body stalwart, 1925-2009

Building the foundations of our parks system

Trevor Elsbury Arthur, who died on 15 November 2009, played a pivotal role in the development of Victoria’s parks system and in the founding of the two parks organisations that merged in 1996 to form Parks Victoria.

 

Born in 1925, Trevor was a bright student and won a scholarship to Melbourne High School. World War Two began and as soon as he was old enough he joined the RAAF and trained as a fighter pilot. After qualification, he was scheduled to go to Canada for further training when the war ended. He accepted a place at Creswick Forestry School and after graduating with an Associate Diploma Forestry in 1948 second top of his class, he was offered a scholarship to Melbourne University. His first posting after attaining his degree of B.Sc.For. in 1952 was with the Forests Commission Victoria at the Wimmera Forest Nursery at Wail close to Dimboola. He was appointed Officer in Charge of the nursery and Dimboola Forest District. In 1960 he completed units of further study in landscape design, park planning practice and architecture.

 

After a stint as Aboriculturalist in the Commonwealth Department of Works, charged with giving advice to various government organisations on design and management of vegetated areas, he was appointed in 1962 as Technical Officer in the fledgling National Parks Authority, successor to John Landy (a scientist and athlete, later Governor of Victoria). By the end of the 1960s the head office staff, including Trevor as Chief Technical Officer (2IC) and Technical Officers Bob Yorston, Colin Hutchinson and Don Saunders (later Director), numbered around 10 – about at the same as the number of park rangers across the state. In 1976 he completed a postgraduate course ‘Introduction to Park Operations’ conducted by the USA National Park Service at Grand Canyon.

 

The principles for managing Victoria’s national parks were established in those years. The twin objectives of nature conservation and recreation were crystallised through such functions as training the Rangers inherited from the Crown Lands committees of management, publishing interpretative guides and site-sensitive design of infrastructure and facilities. Proposals for non-sensitive road standards by the Country Roads Board were stared down, and pressures to open parks for commercial development were resisted. A policy of destroying non-native pests was embedded and fire management regimes endeavoured to reconcile property protection with ecological principles.

 

They were also years without remotely adequate budgets and without any previous professional parks corps from which to draw expertise. If a sign had to be erected at Cape Everard or a pit toilet dug at Glenaladale, as often as not it was head office staff who had to do it. Trevor was always prepared to roll up the sleeves and do what had to be done to support the frontline outdoor work.

 

He took conservation very seriously. In 1971 a journalist from The Age newspaper approached him with an idea of featuring the Arthur family for a week to raise awareness in the community about conservation. The series of articles was called ‘The Earth and Trevor Arthur’ and featured concerns Trevor was already advising would be problematic to future generations such resource consumption, pollution, population growth and the need to recycle materials. Into the 2000s he was greatly distressed that the nation’s leadership still did not take many of these issues seriously enough. In many of these issues he was 30 years or more ahead of official thinking.

 

In 1974 he was recruited by Chairman Alan Croxford as the inaugural Manager of Metropolitan Parks with the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. The metropolitan parks included Jells Park on Dandenong Creek, Westerfolds Park and Petty’s Orchard on the Yarra River and Brimbank Park on the Maribyrnong River. Public buyback of parklands designated in the planning scheme and the 1971 Interim Development Order as Proposed Public Open Space made it easier to control incompatible private development, and allowed the construction of public access venues such as a children’s farm and a model grazing property, as well as bush regeneration. Again, Trevor was instrumental in setting the policies by which these parks are managed to this day.

 

He retired from the Board’s service in 1986 and for a short period was Senior Planning Consultant, Hassell Planning Consultants, then from 1987 managed his own consultancy firm.

 

Trevor was an inveterate international traveller. In May 1999 he calculated that since 1967 he had made eighteen overseas visits to countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa visiting hundreds of parks and recreation facilities.

 

Before and after retirement he was immensely active in the voluntary environmental sector. His roles and awards include:

 

National Trust of Australia (Victoria) – from 1966 a member of the Landscape Committee, including Chairman for a period; inaugural Chairman of the Significant Trees Committee; granted Life Membership in 2009, in recognition of more than 40 years’ voluntary service.

 

Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation – invested as a Fellow in 1960; member, past Treasurer and past President of Victorian Regional Council of RAIPR, 1970 -1997; invested with the Australian Award in Park and Recreation Administration in 1986; Trustee of the Trust Fund-Education that gave rise to the PaRC websites from 1987 and chairman for a period until his death in 2009; in 1991 invested as an Honorary Life Fellow.

 

International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration – member from 1975; appointed by RAIPR as Australia’s Commissioner to the Asia-Pacific region chapter, 1986-1992; Chairman, IFPRA Statutes Committee, 1989 – 1998; Secretary, IFPRA Asia Pacific Region, 1989–1992; Chairman, IFPRA Asia Pacific Region, 1992-1993; Immediate Past Chairman, 1993-1996; in 1995 invested with Honorary Life Membership.

 

Ornamental Plant Conservation Association of Australia – Treasurer from 1986 and in 1999 invested as an Honorary Life Member.

 

Burnley Horticultural College – Education Fund; member of Advisory Committee, 1980-1983.

 

He was a member of the Panel of Judges for Royal Park Master Plan (Melbourne City Council) 1985 and Chairman of Outdoor Access for All Working Party (disabled persons access) 1981-1989. In 2004 his work in landscape management was acknowledged at the International Park Management Congress in Japan, where he received a Distinguished Contribution Award.

 

In 1974 Trevor lost his beloved wife Pat to cancer (they married in 1952), and in 1989 his elder son Graeme to a freak car accident. These setbacks, coupled with progressive loss of hearing and anguish at the anti-progressive policies of Victoria’s and the nation’s leaders, cast a shadow over his final years.

 

Trevor Arthur was a visionary conservationist, compassionate supporter of a number of charities both in Australia and overseas, a Friend of the ABC, a letter writer to and aficionado of The Age and a keen political observer. His family and associates will always remember him with admiration for all that he achieved, his integrity, resilience, compassion, work ethic and dedication to the public interest.

 

Trevor was a practical person who did not leave a large body of written work such as magazine articles, so his contribution to building the foundations of the state’s park system is not as obvious as it might otherwise have been. If you wish to enjoy his legacy, just visit the facilities at one of the Victorian parks and look around you.

 

Adapted from the eulogy delivered at his funeral in November 2009 by his daughter Gillian and an article in the Victoria National Parks Association Journal Park Watch, 1 March 2010 by his former colleague Geoff Edwards.

 

Some selected writings

Metropolitan Parks – Description and Progress. Three internal staff papers, 1982, 1984, 1986 (May not all have been authored by TEA).

Notes on the Treatment of Historically Significant Open Spaces. May 1986.

Australian Parks Systems: Some Changes and Innovations. 1989.

Parks, People and the Environment. 1990.

Meeting the Challenge of Creating Dynamic Park and Recreation Systems. c. 1990.

Review Status: Pending

Planning for bicycles in Australia

Loder & Bayly was the leading consultant firm in Victoria in the planning of off-road and on-road cycling routes from 1974 to the 1990s. It was one of the first consultancies in Australia where town and regional planning was not attached as an add-on to either engineering or architecture consultancies.

Don Glasson, an urban and regional planner, joined the original partners, John Loder and John Bayly, as the third partner in the early 1970s. He brought to the partnership his experience gained as a planner working at Harlow, one of the new towns built after the second World War to house Londoners displaced by the war. Bicycle paths for school, recreational and other trips were integrated into the town’s infrastructure. He was also an active cyclist himself.

In 1974 the firm’s three partners and David Stewart, transportation engineer, carried out the Yarra River Cycle Path Feasibility Study. This pioneering study evaluated the potential for a cycle path along the south bank of the river corridor from the CBD to Hawthorn with a branch along Gardiners Creek to Glenferrie Road. This study was commissioned by the Victorian Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation.

Over the next 20 years Glasson carried out more than 30 bicycle planning studies, supported by the firm’s transport and traffic engineers and landscape planners. The bulk of these studies were for local councils, developing a network of bicycle routes and facilities for both recreational cycling and functional trips such as riding to school and work. An exception was the Bendigo Bicycle Plan which was carried out by Glen Holdsworth, one of Loder & Bayly’s transport planners.

The studies by Don Glasson ranged from Cairns and Rockhampton in the north to about ten studies in and around Adelaide and the Barossa Valley. These South Australian studies included both municipal studies, for example for Unley, Elizabeth and Thebarton, trail studies to the north and south of Adelaide, and other linear studies such as the River Torrens path through Adelaide to the coast.

Don Glasson carried out the first “rail trail” study in Australia for the Wangaratta Council which clearly showed the suitability and feasibility of locating such a trail in the Ovens Valley. The proposed trail followed the rail corridor as far as Porepunkah, with a later extension to Bright when the bridge over the Ovens River was rebuilt. This was the first of a range of rail trails by Don Glasson in Victoria, together with others within and to the north and south of Adelaide and in the Barossa Valley in South Australia.

The bicycle plans for local government areas focused on providing a network of routes for local, recreational and functional trips. As the coverage of these plans extended across neighbouring municipalities in Melbourne and Adelaide, opportunities for arterial scale routes emerged, often providing reasonably direct routes to central and regional centres.

Similarly in Melbourne, off-road recreational and commuter routes extending beyond individual local government areas were established in the Yarra, Maribyrnong, Merri and Darebin Creek valleys. Trails along the eastern foreshore from Mordialloc to Port Melbourne and sections of the western foreshore in Altona were developed in bicycle studies for Altona and Footscray.

It was not until the 600 metre-long pedestrian and bicycle path between Glenferrie Road and the Yarra River was suspended below the South Eastern Freeway that the regional significance of the Gardiners Creek Trail was fully recognised. This link opened up a very direct link all the way from Glen Waverley to the CBD for bicycle commuters. In 2022 Don Glasson measured the in-bound flow of cyclists on the Yarra Trail just below its junction with the Gardiners Creek Trail. It averaged one in-bound bicycle every six seconds for an hourly total of 600. Almost all were travelling in the 20-30 kph speed range. At weekends the average speed and number of cyclists drops and recreational cyclists from the very young to the elderly emerge.

January 2024

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 (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

Landscape Heritage and Scenic Amenity, incl. bibliographies

This “Discussion Paper” of uncertain authorship and date unpicks the concepts of landscape and scenery along with some other relevant attributes. It includes a substantial list of government documents and also an annotated bibliography.

The paper was prepared for Steve MacDonald, Manager of the Queensland Regional Landscape Strategy office from 1995-2012 and is likely to have been written in 2008 or 2009.


 

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

Public Gardens, Ballarat Botanic Gardens

This bibliography, entitled RAIPR – Victorian Region Rejuvination [sic] of Aging [sic] Public Gardens: Suggested Reading, was compiled by John Hawker, probably in 1987 or 1988 (judging by the dates of the latest citations).

 

Click on the link for a visitor’s leaflet dated August 1985 for Ballarat Botanic Gardens.


 

Review Status: Pending

Proposed National Parks and Nature Reserves Reporting

This brief internal paper from the National Parks Service Victoria records criteria that investigating officers should include in reports proposing new national parks. It long pre-dates more detailed criteria such as the 1999 Queensland Assessing, Evaluating and Protecting Land as Open Space, but was at the forefront of practice at the time.


 

Review Status: Pending