Certificate in Horticulture (Nature Park Management)

Certificate in Horticulture (Nature Park Management)

Course Code
Payment Options
Upfront & Payment Plans
Online & Correspondence
700 Hours

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.

Learn about Land Management in Natural Areas

  • For people who work in wildlife parks, national parks, zoos, conservation areas, or other nature parks
  • Self paced course, 600-700 hrs of study from home

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 - 6 units of study in the Horticultural field. These are explained in greater detail below
  • STREAM STUDIES - a further 3 modules including Nature Park Management I and Nature Park Management II plus one other elective selected from the following list;

(Click on modules titles 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


The core studies are comprised of 6 units which are covered in 15 lessons, all of which must be successfully completed in order to move on to the stream studies. The core units account for approximately 350 hours in duration, or half of the overall course time. The following gives a more detailed outline for each of the 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.

Duration: Approximately 600 - 700 hrs. To be completed as your situation permits

Accredited through International Accreditation & Recognition Council

Why Do we need to manage Natural Areas?

Landscapes and their associated plant and animal life are a result of responses to millions of years of naturally occurring disturbances (eg. fire, flood, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, climate changes, sea level changes). Living communities have survived and developed because they have the ability to adapt and perpetuate themselves in a constantly changing environment.

The first thing to understand about natural environments is that they are constantly changing. The manager of a nature park is the manager of change.

A nature park manager should not expect, or attempt to stop natural changes, but he should exercise control over "unnatural influences" which could cause change faster than what the natural environment can adapt to.

Human interference can accelerate change in an environment causing such things as:

  • An increased rate of soil erosion
  • Changes to water runoff patterns
  • Salinity
  • Soil compaction
  • Soil acidification
  • Land slips
  • Weed infestation
  • Loss of native vegetation
  • Pollution of soil, air and streams

Natural ecosystems embody all living and non-living components in a specified district, garden, niche, etc. The more natural the garden or park, the closer it would be to a natural ecosystem. As multiple functions are important, the plants and design should provide food for humans and other biological organisms in the area. Shelter is also important for the nesting of many birds and animals.

A natural ecosystem will provide a diversity of plants and animals; provide a continual succession of plant and animal population; will recycle energy within the parameters of the ecosystem; efficiently utilises resources; provides multiple functions and elements; and demonstrates the principles of relative location.


Deforestation Issues
Tropical forests are being destroyed at an ever increasing rate. The estimates of the losses vary, but at least one half of the tropical forests of the world have already been lost. If the trend continues, the remaining tropical forests will disappear within the next three decades. This is an incalculable loss, because these forests provide habitat for an estimated half of the plant and animal species of the world. In addition, these forests provide water and fuel for a large portion of the world’s population. They also have a large influence on the local and global climatic systems. Such forests are also potentially a treasure house full of previously unknown chemicals, foods, pharmaceuticals, spices and more.

Most of the deforestation is caused by commercial logging, land clearance for agriculture, ranching and fuel. Solutions to these problems include:

  • The development of alternative wood supplies for fuel and timber, achieved by planting and maintaining timber and fuel wood plantations.
  • Developing alternative energy sources for cooking and heating to replace wood used as fuel (e.g. solar).
  • The regulation of logging.
  • A consensus on the value of forest conservation over commercial development.
  • More efficient use of harvested wood products.

Mining Issues
Not surprisingly there is a long list of possible environmental consequences from mining. Some of these include erosion, groundwater contamination by heavy metals, habitat destruction, sinkhole creation and acid mine drainage.

Acid mine drainage occurs where outflowing water from a metal or coal mine is highly acidic, although this can be a naturally occurring process, it is characteristic of large scale disturbances.

Exhaustion of non-renewable resources
The primary consideration here is the exhaustion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago through the decomposition of animal and plant material over time it formed layer upon layer under the ground, which solidified and formed a hard, black colored rock like substance known as coal. Through mining these non-renewable resources coal is processed into oil or petroleum, which forms a large part of the Australian economy through export to other countries. There is a limited supply of coal in underground reserves and is therefore considered to be non-renewable, once it is all gone, there is no more. The solution to this problem lies in the better use of the alternative fuel supplies, by increasing the efficiency of combustion, or by using alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar power and biofuels such as ethanol.

Fishing Issues
Destructive fishing methods may lead to habitat loss. Examples of this include cyanide fishing where sodium cyanide is used to kill and capture fish, the sodium cyanide damages coral, spawn and younger fish. Dynamite fishing where explosives are used to kill or stun schools of fish, this style of fishing frequently kills the coral reef supporting the fish population as well. The combination of these two can lead to large breakdown of coral reef ecosystems. Bottom trawling involves dragging a net along either the very bottom of the ocean or just above the bottom. Bottom trawling can lead to mass destruction of entire sea floor environments. Further effects include resuspension of sediment from the sea floor. This has the effect of reducing light levels leading affecting kelp growth. Additionally such sediments are often ‘sinks’ for pollutants such as DDT, effectively resuspention is allowing such pollution back into the food chain. Destruction of the seafloor environments also reduces the ability of fish populations to restore themselves due to habitat loss.


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