It’s good to see the World Urban Parks Organisation Task Force testing the fundamental premise for a new world urban parks organisation. The group is looking into the viability of the new organisation, what its scope would be (quite possibly all things ‘recreation’ and ‘open space’ within an urban context), and what organisations and individuals want from a global organisation of this kind.

These are the kind of questions that will be put to a growing advisory or reference group of key cities, organisations and respected individuals over coming months as the Task Force explores the value of an inclusive new-model world urban parks organisation.

I am grateful for those volunteering their time on the Task Force. Thank you also to our hard working executive and commissioners, whether they are organising our conferences, the Ifpra Academy, committees, or engaging associations and professionals to become part of our international and regional revitalisation. I offer a warm welcome to new commissioners Anne Charlton for Canada, Kevin Halpenny for Ireland, and Li Xiong for China.

Read more: A word from the President - May 2014

By Chris Rutherford

How satisfied are your park users? How do you know? From July through the summer months a number of Ifpra Europe members are going to be participating in the Yardstick Parks User Survey. If your organisation would like to measure its levels of service and benchmark the results with other organisations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand consider joining the project.

Europe members to date include:

  • Aalborg - Denmark
  • Copenhagen – Denmark
  • Stavanger – Norway
  • Vantaa - Finland

Ifpra will publish a number of the outcomes in future newsletters.

To find out more visit www.yardstickglobal.org.

This regular item shares 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 the provision of street trees per 1,000 residents.

Several national associations are showing strong interest in the work of the new Ifpra Academy, says the Academy’s Deputy Chair, Torgeir Soerensen.

“We are still just at the beginning and have yet to roll out our accreditation programmes in full, so we are pleased with this early interest,” says Mr Soerensen, a former World President of Ifpra.

It is less than a year since a formal agreement was reached between Ifpra and the Eppley Institute to establish the Academy and a certification system for Certified Parks Professional (CPP) and Certified International Parks Professional (CIPP) accreditation.

The Academy’s primary focus is to unite national certification systems by providing the first international competency-based certification programmes for people working in the parks and recreation industry. It will also provide certifications for countries without a current national certifying body.

Read more: Ifpra Academy attracts early interest

By Mark Camley, Chair of The Parks Alliance UK

As park enthusiasts we inevitably believe in the intrinsic value of parks. Some, I expect, would even subscribe to "parks for parks' sake". So it comes as a shock when others don't "get it" and don’t automatically agree with our view of the world. However, we should all be clear that "they" don't always get it. In response to a recent story in the online Guardian newspaper relating to a lack of housing in the UK, one commentator has posted "... first of all we must infill all of London's parks and open spaces with affordable homes". I thought at first that this was some form of joke but it was "liked" by 153 people the last time I checked.

With two young girls most of my cultural references these days are aimed at the under 5s. They have recently been learning the rhyme – Two fat sausages sizzling in the pan, one went pop and the other went bang. The UK's experience of the 2000s is a little like that.  We've seen our banks go bang and I fear our parks will now go pop. The Global Financial Crisis has seen a real and dramatic reduction in funding allocated to parks.

In at least two respects parks have already gone pop. First, the open air concert/festival is now as common in UK parks as seasonal planting used to be. Secondly, fizzy pop drinks are getting in on sponsoring parks and making them active, healthy places. The irony of this is not lost. However, it reflects how parks are having to change in the current climate.

Read more: Challenges in urban parks post GFC - rebuilding the UK

By Cliff Lacey

Parks Canada, custodian of some of Canada's most pristine wilderness, is considering the provision of Wi-Fi in some portions of the national park system.

This proposal has brought great consternation from the conservationist movement in Canada who see this as a first step in further development of Canada's precious wild lands. Park managers assure those detractors that this service is intended to cater to a segment of the population that are not park visitors now, and they do not foresee park development as an offshoot of this program.

For more information about the proposal, read the CTV Montreal News article Parks Canada to install wireless hotspots in national parks.

 

 

 

By Austin Hochstetler

The Ifpra Academy has launched a monthly e-newsletter called the Ifpra Academy Exchange. The Exchange provides a brief synopsis of current events, news, updates, and provides links to additional information.

All interested individuals are encouraged to join the Ifpra Academy email list found on the Academy’s main page at ifpra-academy.org.  Individuals can “unsubscribe” at any time.

The inaugural Exchange was distributed in mid-May and includes information regarding the reduced introductory rates and “Senior Professional Clause” which allows direct CIPP awards for applicants with a high level of experience.

The next Exchange will be distributed in mid-June. To contact the Ifpra Academy directly, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or submit a Contact Us form on the Academy website.

 

 

By Chris Rutherford

A number of organisations in Finland, Denmark and Norway are looking to undertake the Ifpra Yardstick Visitor Survey of Parks users during this European summer.  The survey measures the level of expectation of parks users against their satisfaction with the services being provided. The results are then benchmarked across the European membership as well as against the NZ and Australian mean results, providing a way of reporting on levels of service that is both concise, independent and benchmarked. To join this project in the European summer ahead contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This new item shares 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 the “median garden beds maintenance cost (Euro) per m2”.

A friendly reminder that Ifpra membership fees are due for the coming financial year.

Invoices have been emailed to all members who have provided email addresses for our database. If you have not received yours, or if you have any questions about your membership or the invoice you have been sent, please email Katie McCrae on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There is still time for people to register for Malaysia Urban Green Space and Ifpra Asia Pacific Conference 2014 being held in Penang from 24 – 28 June. Registration closes June 10.

This year’s theme is Parks as melting pots and venues for environmental learning. The Ifpra Asia Pacific Conference takes place the afternoon before the Malaysia Urban Green Space, beginning in the morning with a technical visit to Penang Hill.

Members of the Ifpra Executive are among the Conference speakers, including the Keynote Speaker, Australia’s John Senior. Other Ifpra speakers include: Digby Whyte, also from Australia, our current president, Emanuel Trueb, from Switzerland, and Chris Rutherford, the long-serving Ifpra World Commissioner representing New Zealand.

A dedicated pre-conference Ifpra member programme has been organised for 23 May. There are also post-conference tours on 27 and 28 June (UNESCO World Heritage, taking in Penang tree trails and trishaw rides to the heritage trail), which 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>>

It’s that time of year, friends and colleagues, when you will all soon be receiving your membership renewal notifications by email or post.

We have made many changes aimed at delivering greater value and there is much to look forward to in the coming year as we continue to strive to offer our members more.

The World Urban Parks Organisation (new Ifpra) Task Force got underway this month and is keen to hear from members on current initiatives and issues through the LinkedIn World Urban Parks Initiative group site. We will be adding a page under the Programs section on the Ifpra website to keep you appraised of Task Force progress.

Much has been done to support and encourage networking and collaboration between Ifpra members. The upcoming Ifpra Asia Pacific Congress in Malaysia, Ifpra activities associated with the Nordic Park Congress in Sweden in August, as well as committees, working groups and the soon to be expanded members contact list, all provide members with opportunities to connect and share knowledge with colleagues around the world.

We have also made member news and information more accessible, both through the e-newsletter and through Ifpra’s new website, which provides electronic translations in 50 languages. Passwords to the new members’ area will be emailed to members in May.

Read more: A word from the President – April 2014

By Peter Bridgewater, UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Mention conservation and parks and the names that spring to most people’s mind are the world’s great National Parks, not “pocket handkerchiefs” in cities. “Urban parks?” “Oh you mean those areas with grass and swings?” “Yeah, I like to go there but they’ve nothing to do with conservation….”  This is how a typical conversation on urban parks would go. Of course some urban parks do have their major focus on recreation, and children’s (and adults!) play. Yet equally, urban parks can have some wilder edges, and almost all have vertical structure from trees. Some urban parks, of course, still harbour near-natural spaces.

Urban parks can also harbour high numbers of species - including also rare species. They are also prime sites for the development of novel ecosystems, ie, systems which look natural but actually blend native and non-native species in a functioning ecosystem. Commenting on novel ecosystems, Emma Marris, in a wonderful book called The Rambunctious Garden published in 2011, says “We must temper our romantic notion of untrammelled wilderness and find room next to it for the more nuanced notion of a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us”. And I would add, this nowhere more than in urban environments – especially urban parks.

Read more: What have urban parks to do with conservation?

Ifpra has thrown its support behind the call for a Greater London National Park. The idea to “turn London into the world’s first urban National Park encompassing an entiremajor world city” is the brainwave of Geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison and is attracting growing interest at on the conceptual Greater London National Park website.

Raven-Ellison argues London’s 8.3 million humans speak 300 languages and share the city with 13,000 wild species in the 47 per cent of Greater London that is green. As well as the 3,000 parks, 142 local nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and two National Nature Reserves within the city’s limits, there are 3.8 million private gardens, a national trail and 170 museums. Raven-Ellison says this patchwork of green and cultural space under multiple jurisdictions could make for a new kind of urban national park that would inform and inspire best practice and help better coordinate and promote London’s biodiversity and recreational opportunities.

We think why stop there? We hope many more metropolises of the world are inspired by the London idea and recognise the national park scale and values inherent in their own green and open space systems. Raven-Ellison agrees and says he will be happy to provide his excellent website model to any serious organisation or city ready to take up the challenge.

Professor Yoritaka Tashiro’s contribution to Ifpra over more than 20 years was recognised with an Ifpra Silver Medal during the 2013 World Congress held at Lake Louise, Canada, at the end of last year.

During his time with Ifpra, Yoritaka has made a significant international contribution. His first office for Ifpra was as Commissioner for Japan from 1994 to 1998, where he helped to add value for Japanese members and promote engagement between Japanese members and their international counterparts.

Between 2004 and 2007, Yoritaka served as World President of Ifpra, after serving as President Elect from 2000 to 2003. In that period the Ifpra World Congress was hosted in Hamamatsu, Japan, with one of the significant outcomes being the Hamamatsu Resolution. This resolution resulted in the development of a good practice guideline promoting harmonious natural environments and liveable and sustainable communities in the 21st Century.

In 2008, Yoritaka returned as the Ifpra Commissioner for Japan, where he remains today in support of Japanese Ifpra members.

Read more: Ifpra medallist profile – Yoritaka Tashiro

The international task force considering the creation of a new World Urban Parks Organisation held their first meeting via Skype earlier this month.

The 12-member group, comprising Ifpra representatives and stakeholders from professional associations, agencies, universities and NGOs from around the world, discussed the terms of reference, timeline, and some of the key decisions they expect to make.

Ifpra and the Task Force wishes to ensure that all members have the opportunity to provide their thoughts on the potential for a new international urban parks organisation. To facilitate this, the Task Force has setup a World Urban Parks Initiatives (WUPI) group on the LinkedIn website, where it is asking for input on key initiatives and issues in the parks sector.

If you haven’t checked out the LinkedIn site, or visited recently, please do as this is becoming a useful and easy medium for discussion and you can see the contributions of Ifpra members and other stakeholders coming in. All Ifpra members are invited to share one or two urban park initiatives their organisation is taking and one or two key issues that a world urban parks organisation could help resolve for their organisation, whether their organisation is a government entity, business, non-government organisation or other.

The Task Force will also be seeking advice from the Task Force’s reference group, which comprises major organisations and leaders representative of the proposed new organisation and major cities around the world. This group is expected to expand throughout the year.