Qualification - Certificate Horticulture (Nature Park Management)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

This course adds diversity and scope to your future in horticulture

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

Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

  • CORE STUDIES - see below
  • STREAM STUDIES - a further three modules (see below)


Students must complete and pass all of these core units.

1. Introduction to plants         

The purpose of this study area is to explain the binomial system of plant classification and demonstrate identification of plant species through the ability of using botanical descriptions for leaf shapes and flowers.


*Describe the relevant identifying physical features of flowering ornamental plants.

*Demonstrate how to use prescribed reference books and other resources to gain relevant information.

*Dissect, draw and label two different flowers.

*Collect and identify the shapes of different leaves.

*Demonstrate how to identify between family, genus, species, variety and cultivar.

2. Plant culture                       

The purpose of this study area is to demonstrate the ability to care for plants so as to maintain optimum growth and health while considering pruning, planting, and irrigation.


  • Describe how to prune different plants.
  • Demonstrate how to cut wood correctly, on the correct angle and section of the stem.
  • Describe how to plant a plant.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different irrigation equipment, sprinklers, pumps and turf systems available by listing their comparative advantages and disadvantages.
  • Demonstrate competence in selecting an appropriate irrigation system for a garden, explaining why that system would be preferred.
  • Define water pressure and flow rate and how to calculate each.
  • Explain the need for regular maintenance of garden tools and equipment.
  • List factors that should be considered when comparing types of machinery for use in garden maintenance.

3. Soils and plant nutrition     

The purpose of this study area is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to identify, work with, and improve the soil condition and potting mixes, and to evaluate fertilisers for use in landscape jobs to maximize plant growth.


  • Describe the soil types commonly found in plant culture in terms of texture, structure and water-holding and nutrient holding capacity.
  • Describe methods of improving soil structure, infiltration rate, water holding capacity, drainage and  aeration.   
  • List the elements essential for plant growth.
  • Diagnose the major nutrient deficiencies that occur in ornamental plants and prescribe treatment  practices.
  • Describe soil pH and its importance in plant nutrition.
  • Describe the process by which salting occurs and how to minimise its effect.
  • Conduct simple inexpensive tests on three different potting mixes and report accordingly.
  • Describe suitable soil mixes for container growing of five different types of plants.
  • List a range of both natural and artificial fertilizers.
  • Describe fertilizer programs to be used in five different situations with ornamental plants.

4. Introductory propagation   

The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's understanding of propagation techniques with particular emphasis on cuttings and seeds. Other industry techniques such as grafting and budding are also explained.


  • Demonstrate propagation of six (6) different plants by cuttings and three from seed.
  • Construct a simple inexpensive cold frame.
  • Mix and use a propagation media suited to propagating both seed and cuttings.
  • Describe the method and time of year used to propagate different plant varieties.
  • Describe and demonstrate the steps in preparing and executing a variety of grafts and one budding technique.
  • Explain the reasons why budding or grafting are sometimes preferred propagation methods.

5. Identification and use of plants       

The purpose of this study area is to improve the student's range of plant knowledge and the plant use in landscaping and the ornamental garden, and the appreciation of the different optimum and preferred growing conditions for different plants.


  • Select plants appropriate for growing in different climates.
  • Select plants appropriate to use for shade, windbreaks, as a feature, and for various aesthetic effects.
  • Categorise priorities which effect selection of plants for an ornamental garden.
  • Explain the differences in the way plants perform in different microclimates within the same area.
  • List and analyze the situations where plants are used.

6. Pests, diseases and weeds 

The purpose of this study area is develop the student’s ability to identify, describe and control a variety of pests, diseases and weeds in ornamental situation, and to describe safety procedures when using agricultural chemicals.


  • Explain in general terms the principles of pest, disease and weed control and the ecological (biological) approach to such control.
  • Explain the host‑pathogen‑environment concept.
  • Describe a variety of pesticides for control of pests, diseases and weeds of ornamental plants in terms of their active constituents, application methods, timing and rates, and safety procedures.
  • Photograph or prepare specimens, identify and recommend control practices for at least five insect pests of ornamental plants.
  • Photograph, sketch or prepare samples, identify and recommend control practices for three non‑insect ornamental plant health problems (e.g. fungal, viral, bacterial).
  • Describe the major ways in which diseases (fungal, viral, bacterial and nematode) affect turf, the life cycle features that cause them to become a serious problem to turf culture and the methods available for their control.
  • Identify, describe and recommend treatment for three different weed problems.
  • Collect, press, mount and identify a collection of ten different weeds, and recommend chemical and  non-chemical treatments which may be used to control each.
  • List and compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of different weed control methods.



Nature Park Management 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nature Park Management 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Risk Management II – preparing a risk management plan

Choose an additional module from the following courses (Click on each course for more details):

  • Ecotour Management
  • Ecotour Tour Guide Course
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Weed Control
  • Wildlife Management
  • Conservation and Environmental Management
  • Ornithology
  • Practical Horticulture I
  • Marine Studies I
  • Vertebrate Zoology
  • Animal Health Care
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Workplace Health & Safety

Developing Areas to Support Wildlife

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

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

Wildlife constantly moves:

  • Looking for food; new sources; seasonal availability
  •  Looking for shelter/protection
  •  Searching for mates
  •  Dispersal of young to new ranges

In island habitats there may be no adjacent habitat to forage in, or to disperse along.

Island communities:

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

Links between such isolated communities would:

  • Allow migration to replenish a declining wildlife population (increasing numbers giving better chance for some to survive and reduce inbreeding).
  • Allow re-colonisation where a species may have become locally extinct (extend the local range).


Other Benefits

There are not only benefits for indigenous vegetation and wildlife, but also considerable benefits to local land owners. Creating such corridors can also:

  •  Help reduce erosion (e.g. in gullies, stream banks, on exposed ridges).
  •  Help reduce salinity problems
  • Reduce nutrient runoff into streams.
  • Provide windbreaks or shelter belts for stock and crops; this greatly improves yields due to reduced heat or cold stress of stock and lessens wind damage to plants (e.g. young seedlings, flowers on fruiting plants).
  •  Increase birth rates of animals.
  •  Provide timber and firewood.
  • Stream-line corridors help improve water quality, help mitigate floods, reduce erosion and improve recreational fishing.

Situating Corridors

They may exist anywhere between habitat islands of any size, even as little as a few old remnant trees that may provide valuable hollows, or linking smaller patches to perhaps a larger state forest.

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

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

Types of Corridors

1.      Natural - follow natural contours (e.g. ridges, streams, gullies).

2.      Remnant - along roadsides, railway reserves, disused stock routes and often follow straight lines.

3.      Planted - such things as farm shelter breaks and windbreaks they are generally created for other purposes than creating wildlife habitat, but can serve a dual purpose.

Design Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edge Effects

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

What Can Happen At "Edges"

  • Microclimate changes - solar radiation, air and soil temperature, wind speed, humidity levels can all be altered leading to stresses on existing vegetation, and change in types of plant seeds germinating.
  •  Change in wildlife species - as vegetation patterns change near edges, so usually do the types of wildlife that inhabit those areas. Edges can be important for some species, providing shelter, nest sites, perching and observation points (e.g. parrots feeding on grass and grain seed, eagles on rabbits, grazing animals on grasses). Species with wider tolerances take over near edges less tolerant species only survive in "core" areas away from edges. In narrow corridors or small remnant patches these 'core' species are generally absent. Aggressive edge dwelling species such as noisy and bell miners may invade and displace former inhabitants.
  •  An increase in pest animals - foxes, cats and dogs tend to move along and hide out near roads, tracks and cleared areas.
  •  Weed invasion - invasive plants can readily move into remnant vegetation and corridor plantings from adjacent agricultural, industrial or residential areas.
  •  Impacts from adjacent land use such as: chemical and fertiliser drift; erosion; trampling and grazing by stock; littering (e.g. roadsides); altering water runoff characteristics (e.g. drains).
  •  Noise and movement - many animals require quiet to breed and feed.

In General:

  • The longer the edge the larger the area disturbed.
  • The more angular the edges the greater the edge effect. Corners increase disturbance. Rounded corners and regular shapes minimise edge effects.
  • The smaller the area the greater the risk of impacts occurring throughout the vegetation, with the 'core' habitat being destroyed.



 For people working or intending to work in nature parks such as zoos, wildlife parks, national parks, forests and reserves.





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