Time is running out for those interested in presenting papers or posters at the Malaysia Urban Green Space and Ifpra Asia Pacific Conference 2014, to be held in Penang from 24 – 28 June. Abstract submissions close on 15 May, with full papers due on 1 June.

An impressive line-up of international speakers, including several members of the Ifpra Executive, has already been confirmed. The conference theme, Parks as melting pots and venues for environmental learning, promises to give rise to some fascinating presentations, parallel sessions, workshops and technical visits, particularly given the demographic shifts, multicultural populations and increasing role of urban conservation in the rapidly developing Asia Pacific Region.

A dedicated pre-conference Ifpra member programme has been organised for 23 May and post-conference tours on 27 June 2014 (UNESCO World Heritage) and 28 June (Penang Eco-Trail) are open to conference participants and accompanying guests.

Registration for the conference is $500 USD for international participants, or $550 USD including post-conference tours. Registration closes on 10 June.

Further information about the conference, presentation submissions and instructions for registering are available in the Ifpra Congresses & Events section of our website.

Visit the conference page for more information>>

The Nordic Parks Congress, to be held from 20-22 August 2014 in Malmö, Sweden, will consider the impacts of increasing urbanisation on sustainable cities, particularly in relation to urban parks and outdoor spaces.

Delegates will hear from leading international and Nordic experts on the challenges, threats and opportunities facing our cities’ outdoor environments and have the opportunity to attend parallel sessions and workshops on a variety of topics. Study tours highlighting local projects, areas and activities will also be on offer.

In conjunction with the congress, Ifpra will host the Executive and World Commissioners’ meetings, Yardstick Scandinavian User Group meeting, Ifpra Academy workshop and a pre-conference tour in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Registrations for the congress close on 15 June.

Further information, including the congress brochure, details of Ifpra events and a link to register online is available in the Ifpra Congresses & Events section of our website.

Visit the conference page to register or to find out more>>

This month has seen considerable progress on the Malaysia Green Space and Ifpra Asia Pacific Conference, being held in Penang from 24-28 June 2014. The conference includes a great selection of tours and local and international speakers and offers a dedicated Ifpra member programme the day before on 23 June.

Our regional conferences are one of the highlights of our calendar, providing opportunities to share knowledge and best practice from a uniquely local and international conference program and understand the host nation and city’s approach to urban parks and open space. It goes without saying that our regional conferences have a reputation as great social and networking events, providing opportunities for Ifpra members to come together and develop working relationships beneficial to their work programs.

Malaysia is particularly suited for the theme of parks as melting pots and venues for environmental learning, given the country’s demographic shifts, multicultural population and the increasing role of urban conservation in the rapidly developing Asia Pacific Region. We can also look forward to different cultural, environmental, and heritage perspectives in Malaysia.

Read more: A word from the President - March 2014

Alan Smith’s significant contribution to Ifpra over 30 years’ service as General Secretary/CEO was recognised with an Ifpra Gold Medal, and uniquely, recognised as a Life Commissioner, during the 2013 World Congress held at Lake Louise, Canada at the end of last year.

In this article we salute Alan’s contribution to Ifpra and share Alan’s thoughts on his time in Ifpra and his wider service and career.

Alan took up the Post of Chief Executive of the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM) in 1984 and in the same year attended the Ifpra World Assembly in Innsbruck, where he was formally appointed as the General Secretary of Ifpra. The Post of General Secretary was re-designated Chief Executive in 2008.

During his time with Ifpra he worked with ten Presidents and attended every World and European Congress and most of the Asia Pacific Congresses, which he says, provided many memorable occasions and enabled him to maintain personal contact with many members.

Read more: Ifpra medallist profile - Alan Smith

By Makoto Aruji, President of Ifpra Japan

It is with great sorrow that I have to inform you that Dr Mariko Handa, Ifpra Commissioner for Japan and Vice President of Ifpra Japan, passed away on February 17, 2014. She was 66. All those in the parks and landscape industry in Japan and worldwide have reacted with shock to her unexpected death. Our thoughts go out to Junko Takeda, her elder sister.

After studying landscape planning and urban ecology at the University of Tokyo, she began work for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and then Department of Parks and Green Spaces, Ministry of Construction. Mariko also worked as a Director of the Planning Section of the Showa Kinen Park Construction Office and contributed to the planning and design of Showa Kinen Park. The large green field in the park, known as Everyone’s field, was designed by Mariko and is one of the most remarkable spaces in Japanese park history.

Read more: Valedictory for Dr Mariko Handa

By Gilbert Briscoe

Some people want public recognition and others prefer to donate to good causes very quietly. There are many such causes including charities, hospitals, religious organisations and educational grants such as the well-known Rhodes scholarship. It's all about giving something back to the community.

Even local governments have jumped on the bandwagon. It is becoming increasingly common for citizens to donate park benches or have trees planted in a favourite spot, bearing commemorative plaques.

This idea is very popular and is growing, says Rob Richardson, a manager with the City of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division.

"We might get a request for a tree or a bench in memory of a loved one."

In Toronto a bench is priced at $2,200 and a tree $642.

So, what drives it all?

People want to give back. They realise the importance of the role of parks and they see contributing to park enhancement as a great idea .

From Daniel Boulens, Director of Green Space for the City of Lyon

An exhibition held in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City earlier this month explored the urban policies and management of Ho Chi Minh City and the City of Lyon, France, and the similarities between both cities.

The “Meandering Through the City” exhibition used over 300 pictures, display panels, videos, 3D animations and touch screens to highlight the innovative urban policies of the two cities through their large urban projects, urban management of public spaces, mobility, and the role of nature in each city. These themes reflect the ongoing urban changes and contribute to heightening the international profile of both cities.

More than 1,000 people visited the exhibition, which ran from 16-23 March at Lam Son Square under the guidance of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee. It was jointly organised by the Ho Chi Minh City Urban Development Management Support Centre (PADDI), the Department of Urban Planning and Architecture, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

For more information about the exhibition visit www.paddi-expositions.org/serpenter-dans-la-ville/en/

Have you asked your parks users what is important and how satisfied they are with your parks?

The Ifpra Yardstick Parks User Survey is a face-to-face survey that asks parks users about their levels of expectation and satisfaction with a range of typical parks assets and facilities.

The project is run annually across multiple countries, usually during the summer months. The results are benchmarked and provide clear direction for park managers in planning to meet the needs of their park’s users and the ability to report on levels of service.

The 2014 project is currently in the planning stages for Europe and Canada and participation is encouraged.

If you would like to see the output report from the 2013 project or have any questions please contact the Ifpra Yardstick Project Director Chris Rutherford This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This regular section will share a little of the value of Yardstick each month from the 2013 data for Parkcheck members in Europe, North America, Africa and Australasia. This month’s benchmark looks at “Area of sports parks per 1,000 residents”. Note that the number of members varies per country with only Australia, New Zealand and Denmark reasonably reflective of a national level of provision.

From John Senior, Chair WUPO Task Force

Are you interested in learning more about how urban parks can positively influence human health and protect the environment? If so, the upcoming World Parks Congress is a must-attend event.

The Congress, being held in Sydney from 12-19 November 2014, is a landmark global forum on parks and protected areas held once every 10 years. The theme is Parks, Planet, People: inspiring solutions.

With increasing urbanisation around the globe, the role of urban parks has never been so important. For some people parks are their only contact with nature and the many health and social benefits that being in nature brings.


Read more: Urban parks in focus at World Parks Congress

One of the benefits of our new e-newsletter is being able to monitor what is of most interest to members and other subscribers.

Our January issue was opened by nearly half of our extended membership and half of those readers clicked to read more of articles on our website. I can also tell you that the January e-newsletter was best read in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, USA and Finland. Although read beyond our membership, it is primarily your news so please feel welcome to contribute items large and small.

Another key communications forum for us is the World Urban Parks Initiative (WUPI) group network site on LinkedIn. The site was set up to provide a forum for Ifpra and other parks professionals on issues relating to urban parks and is also a key platform to discuss the potential new model world urban parks organisation (or WUPO as the Executive have approved as a short reference, which you also know as the ‘new Ifpra’).

There  is a strong representation of Ifpra members on LinkedIn and I do recommend you following and contributing to the discussions. For those of you who use LinkedIn I encourage you to consider recommending the site to your network so we can encourage as much of the parks industry as possible to participate.

The task force to conduct implementation planning of the WUPO is now forming with John Senior (Chair), Neil McCarthy and a world commissioner representing Ifpra.

Read more: A Word from the President - February 2014

The Ifpra members’ area has now been created on this website.

We are currently loading limited content, and a user name and password will be emailed to members in the first couple of weeks of March. Once available, we would like you to take a look at the members' area and let us know what you like, what else you would like to see and if you have any ideas about how it could be improved.

The  members’ area aims to encourage conversation and engagement between members and to provide opportunities to share knowledge with fellow Ifpra parks, recreation and outdoor spaces professionals.

The area can be used for the activities of committees and working groups and may contain the latest member contacts list, a resource database for member contributions of best practice, as well as our business plan, budget and Executive and Commission minutes.

Gilbert Briscoe’s significant contribution to Ifpra over the course of more than 30 years was recognised with an Ifpra Silver Medal during the 2013 World Congress held at Lake Louise, Canada at the end of last year.

Gilbert’s  association with Ifpra goes back to the 1970s. He served as the Ifpra Commissioner for South Africa from 1977 to 1989 and has attended an impressive total of 22 Ifpra congresses around the world. This has included presentations at four Ifpra world congresses – Barcelona in 1983, Auckland in 1986, Hong Kong in 1982 and Cape Town in 2001.

Additionally, Gilbert has been Honorary Editor of the Ifpra Bulletin and later Ifpra World since its inception in 1986 and was awarded Honorary Life Membership of Ifpra at the Europe Congress in Bern, Switzerland in 1994.

Gilbert trained as a horticulturist with the Johannesburg Parks and Recreation Department and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He is also qualified in Parks and Recreation Administration, Public Administration and Business Management and has previously held positions as the Manager of Parks, Recreation and Cleansing in Soweto and Deputy Director Parks and Recreation in Johannesburg.

His broader contribution to the fields of horticulture, parks and recreation makes for impressive reading.

In 1971 Gilbert started a horticultural training centre at Nancefield Nursery, Soweto, which ran until 1986.He also held a number of senior roles for the former Parks and Recreation Administration (now the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management), including President, Executive Committee Member and Editor of the Park Administration publication.

Read more: Ifpra medallist profile - Gilbert Briscoe

Hundreds of outdoor events will take place across Australia and New Zealand from 3-9 March as part of the region’s third annual Parks Week.

The week is lead and coordinated by Parks Forum, the peak body for New Zealand and Australian park management organisations, which works to develop strategic direction for the industry and to promote the value of parks to decision makers and the wider community.

Many of Ifpra’s Australasian members are among the organisations helping to raise awareness of the week, including the New Zealand Recreation Association and Parks and Leisure Australia, both of which are Parks Forum MOU partners as well as Ifpra members.

Parks  Forum Acting Chief Executive Ingrid Sieler says the week’s theme, “Connect with Nature”, reflects the important role parks play in contributing to healthy, happy and strong communities.

Read more: Australia and New Zealand to celebrate Parks Week

We are pleased to announce that the Ifpra Academy is offering special introductory rates for its two certification programmes.

Until 30 September 2014, the national-level Certified Park Professional is available for only $175 USD (normally $250 USD) and the advanced Certified International Park Professional is available for $275 USD (normally $375 USD).

US rates are used as Ifpra certification is administered by Indiana University’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.

Hopefully many of you will have had a chance to explore the Academy’s website, www.ifpra-academy.org. The Academy seeks to unite national certification systems by providing the first international competency-based certification program for the parks and recreation industry, the Certified International Parks Professional certification.

We also provide formal recognition for countries without a current relevant national certifying body through the Certified Park Professional certification.

The competency framework for both certifications was vetted by an international group of park professionals, representing six continents and various disciplines of the park industry, in mid-2013.

Visit the Academy’s website for further information about our certification programs, training and professional development or to apply for certification online.