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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

This new item 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.

Note that the number of members vary per country with only Australia and New Zealand reasonably reflective of a national level of provision.

Ifpra is part of the Yardstick Parkcheck Benchmarking project to assist and  share the latest benchmarking research on the management and performance of parks and leisure facilities across borders. An update on the progress of Ifpra Yardstick projects is now available.


The first Parkcheck WINTER Visitor Survey was undertaken in Copenhagen in December/January and is now completed. The results have been benchmarked against both Copenhagen's summer results and other summer results from the European members as well as the average results from New Zealand and Australia.

The summer parks survey (Parkcheck Visitor Measures) and Parkcheck Management Measures are open for membership currently in Europe.

Australia/New Zealand

The Leisurecheck Visitor Survey of recreation facilities, including swimming pools and leisure centres in Australia and New Zealand is approaching the end of its survey period along with the Parkcheck Visitor Survey in New Zealand. Results will be published within a month.

South Africa/Swaziland

We welcome Stellenbosch to the Parkcheck Management Measures project in 2014 and are keen to see the membership grow further. The Yardstick Management Measures report for South Africa for the 2013 year has just been completed in final form and is downloadable from the web page http://www.yardstickglobal.org/annual_reports


Canadian Yardstick Project Manager Cliff Lacey is attending an industry gathering hosted by Ontario Parks Association this week and will also be meeting with a number of interested Ontario organisations. Yardstick Project Director Chris Rutherford will be visiting British Columbia and Alberta in early April to discuss the establishment of the Leisurecheck project (for recreation facilities) in tandem with our Alberta partner Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA). For details of the meetings, should you wish to attend, please email Cliff on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New members

We welcome the following new or returning members to the Ifpra Yardstick projects:

City of Stavanger, Norway
Waikato District Council, New Zealand
Stellenbosch, South Africa
City of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

The Ifpra Asia Pacific and Malaysia Urban Green Space Conference will be held from 24-28 June 2014 in Penang, Malaysia.

Registrations for the conference are now open and oral and poster paper submissions from Ifpra members are welcome. The conference, presented in English, will mix regional South-East Asia with broader international perspectives.

The themes for the conference are:

  • Parks for Multi-cultural Societies
  • Conservation of Natural Resources in Urban Green Space
  • Recreation Programming for Environmental Sustainability
  • Best Practices and Benchmarking

Submissions should be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Abstracts are due 15 May 2014 with full papers by 1 June 2014.

Post-conference tours are open to participants and accompanying persons and are organised for 27 June 2014 (UNESCO World Heritage) and 28 June (Penang Eco-Trail).

Registration is $500 USD for international participants.

Please view this PDF brochure for further details or view further event details in the Ifpra Congresses & Events section.

Congress Report: 2013 Ifpra World Congress and Alberta Recreation and Park Association (ARPA) Conference

Contributed by Gilbert Briscoe, Honorary Ifpra Member 

The joint Ifpra World Congress and ARPA Conference was held at the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada from 24-26 October 2013.

Over 500 delegates registered for the conference, which had the theme of New Horizons: Learning Together. Ifpra was well represented with almost 70 members in attendance and providing 25 percent of the conference presentations.

The conference began on Thursday, 24th October and offered 54 different workshops in all. However it was only possible for delegates to attend a maximum of eight. This resulted in some difficult decisions of which to attend.

What follows is a summary of the workshops and plenary sessions I attended.

Read more: 2013 IFPRA & ARPA Joint Conference Report

Cliff and Gail Lacey and Barry and Jan Manchak were among Ifpra members who took part in a tour of parks and special places in Alberta, Canada, prior to the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association Conference and Ifpra World Congress at the end of last year. This is Cliff and Barry’s account of the tour, accompanied by some great photos taken by Gail.

A total of 40 Ifpra members and significant others signed on for a six-day, six-night tour of parks and special places in Alberta, Canada, in the lead-up to the 2013 Alberta Recreation and Parks Association Conference and Ifpra World Congress.

The tour travelled over 1,800 KMs through five of the six bio-regions in Alberta - Rocky Mountains, Foothills, Grassland, Parkland and Boreal Forest.
We visited four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the three largest urban centres in Alberta, where we toured their world class urban parks. 

There were numerous presentations throughout the tour on topics such as urban park planning, development and management, aboriginal history, outdoor education training for youth, and management and presentation of the paleontological resources found in Alberta.'

The tour group
in Banff National Park at Bow Lake.

Read more: Pre Ifpra World Congress Tour in Alberta

PresidentHappy New Year to all and I trust you will have a successful 2014. Certainly Ifpra has a large agenda to energise Ifpra, deliver greater value to you and develop a new model world urban parks organisation or “New Ifpra” with our friends in other organisations.

Firstly you will have noticed the new-format monthly Ifpra e-Newsletter that integrates with Ifpra’s new website. Some of you will have checked out the website while under development and it is now live at Ifpra’s original address www.ifpra.org.

We are keen to know how you find the website and all ideas and comments are welcome at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For the first time it is possible to translate the website into 50 languages and although the quality of a computer translation can vary, this should continue to improve and make the website more internationally accessible.

Later stages will include a member’s area and on-line membership fee and event payments. The e-Newsletter displays quickly in the body of your email without attachments or need to open PDFs, and links to the website to see the full article or to read it in a different language. We are also exploring options for free iPhone and tablet-friendly applications, such as Flipboard.

Now I must tell you that your Executive has had to make the hard decision to cease the production of Ifpra World for the time being, primarily for financial reasons. Currently as a 250 member organisation we do not generate sufficient income to maintain a printed magazine that costs more than half our income, and we have other services and priorities to consider during a significant development phase.

Indeed there are associations with 1,500 members that prefer frequent, flexible and interactive internet-based communications to a printed periodical magazine, and this too is why we have been developing our internet communications.

However Ifpra World has been an important part of Ifpra and a flagship communication over the last decades so I have asked Alan Smith, as the long-serving editor of Ifpra World, to do a Special Issue for March to celebrate and salute Ifpra World’s contribution through a retrospective selection of the best of Ifpra World over the years.

I’m also proud to announce that the Ifpra Academy website has gone live at www.ifpra-academy.org . This has been a significant achievement by the Ifpra Academy Board of Regents in partnership with Indiana University’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Lands.

Read more: A Word from the President - January 2014

Outgoing President Torgeir Sorensen (Norway) devoted much of his report to the Ifpra World Commission at the October 2013 Ifpra World Congress and ARPA Conference, to recent work to rejuvenate Ifpra, noting Ifpra was likely entering the second most important stage in its history following its inception.

Recent developments have seen the Scientific Task Force’s Benefits of Parks study, the launch of the Ifpra Academy, the world urban parks outreach initiative that brought organisations together in Dublin as a precursor to the Ifpra Strategic Review by Parks For Life (a group of national park associations) and new business planning and Secretariat.

A New Vibrant IFPRAPictured are Gil Penalosa, Digby Whyte, Torgeir Sorensen, James McCulloch, Russell Watkinson, Steve Coleman, David Clarke, Paul Bramhill, and Christy Boylan at a Review strategy meeting in Reading, UK. (Out of the picture are Catherine Nagel, Barbara Tulipane and Azlin Yahaya)

Following input from Ifpra members in London, Hamburg and Sydney and by on-line survey, as well as with external stakeholders, Parks for Life delivered a report positioning Ifpra to lead the development towards a strengthened global network, championing urban parks (and all associated recreation, amenity and conservation activities). The Review Report, available to members, has developed plans for a more inclusive membership, evolved structure, constitution, business planning and sustainable budget. The General Assembly at Alberta approved formation of a Task Force with representatives of Ifpra and other partnering organisations to develop the ‘New Ifpra’ ready for a decision by the General Assembly in 2014.

Incoming President Emanuel Trueb (Switzerland) paid tribute to Torgeir Sorensen’s leadership and strategic direction as well as Alan Smith’s 29 years of service as CEO, and welcomed the new Executive: President Elect Neil McCarthy (Australia), Chair Ifpra Europe James McCulloch (UK), Chair Ifpra Asia-Pacific Chris Rutherford (New Zealand), Vice President Ifpra Academy Dr Christy Boylan (Ireland) and Vice President Ifpra Science Task Force Dr Noor Azlin Yahya (Malaysia).