CERTIFICATE IN HORTICULTURE (NATURE PARK MANAGEMENT) Study an online qualification in horticulture management from home.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 700 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Learn How to Manage Nature Parks

With the ongoing clearance of land to make way for residential and commercial development, it has become more important to look after what natural land we have left and to preserve it for wildlife and indigenous plants. Nature parks are a means of doing this, as well as a means of managing that land to make it accessible for humans without depleting natural resources. 

There are many different aspects of nature park management. It can involve things like restoring degraded land, preventing erosion, planning regeneration, managing weed control, designing facilities, or increasing public awareness of vulnerable species. Underneath it all is the need to have a solid grounding in horticulture and ecology.   

The Certificate in Horticulture (nature park management) is a vocationally oriented 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 analyse 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:

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

Working as a Park Ranger

A park ranger, or forest ranger, is a person committed to protecting and preserving national, state, provincial or local parklands. The ranger’s role is to manage, supervise and control nature reserves, scenic areas, historical assets, and other recreational sites.

Rangers are responsible for making sure that the activities held in both the natural environment and the recreational area that the public has access to, are in balance. Their goal is to encourage visitors whilst simultaneously promoting awareness, protection, and care for the natural environment so that it can be preserved and enjoyed.

Being a park ranger requires a high level of motivation, love for working outdoors, and an immense passion for nature. It can provide some exciting challenges that may turn out to be very rewarding for those working in this field.

There are many opportunities for people who wish to pursue a career as a park ranger. As the role of park ranger has evolved over time, the responsibilities of rangers have become more and more specialised. However, all rangers share the same intention which is to protect the natural environment and its inhabitants for the benefit of future generations.

A park ranger will be able to carry out a number of practical duties such as:

  • Maintaining favourable wildlife conditions
  • Managing visitor and exhibition centres
  • Managing historical, cultural, and natural resources
  • Protecting the public and wildlife by patrolling sites, and undertaking search and rescue
  • Ensuring safety of public access areas, and performing continuous safety inspections
  • Monitoring wildlife by devising and conducting surveys
  • Implementing projects to conserve nature based on protection and creation of natural habitats
  • Educating and creating awareness of environmental conservation
  • Making minor repairs to gates, fences, stiles, walls, footpaths and picnic tables
  • Maintaining and creating trails for visitor use
  • Providing information and service to visitors, leading guided tours, and working with volunteers
  • Identifying and controlling weeds, pests and animals that might be threatening to native plants and animals

Where Do They Work?
Rangers may work in urban, suburban, or rural areas such as:

  • Conservation and recreation including: wildlife parks, marine parks, game parks, national forests, sanctuaries, campgrounds and other recreational areas
  • Historic buildings, ancient battlefields, archaeological properties, museums
  • University or government research centres
  • Department of Agriculture

The working space of a park ranger will depend on the type of environment they are allocated to manage, as well as the duties they are required to perform. The differences within their duties will depend on their job position, the size of the site, and the specific job description.

The activities related to a park ranger’s job are mainly performed outdoors, but as they assume more managerial responsibilities, they may find themselves spending more time working in offices. Some qualified park rangers may be allocated to a different part of the country whereas others remain stationed in only one area. However, they all endorse the spirit of teamwork when it comes to being in charge of protecting the parks and the people who visit them.

Being a park ranger can be quite a rewarding and inspiring career choice, but there are certain risks involved in a few of the duties they might be exposed to. It is important to have some knowledge of the use of chemicals and other safety matters as you will possibly be dealing with hazardous materials or natural resources such as toxic chemicals, animal faeces, or fire suppression or back burning.

Because of a continuous exposure to animals and nature, there is a risk of getting bitten and obtaining transmitted parasites or diseases, as well as allergic reactions to certain plants or flowers while attempting surveys or habitat restoration.

Since it is a very popular job, competition for positions is strong, especially within the sciences and conservation area.  Most of the jobs that become available are advertised in the newspapers or on employment websites, but a lot of jobs tend to come up internally and may not be widely advertised. It is therefore worthwhile being involved in organisations of interest in order to have a better chance of finding out that a new job opportunity has arisen.

What Is Needed?
Park rangers are mainly employed by government agencies. It is useful for potential employees to have a broad foundation in certain qualifications that will allow them to carry out their responsibilities and duties in an assertive manner. They will be required to have an adequate understanding of the cultural side of different sites and their resources, as well as a broad vision on what conservation and management is involved. Suitable knowledge may include subjects such as natural resource management, natural or earth sciences, history, archaeology, anthropology, park and recreation management, law enforcement/police science, social or behavioural sciences, museum sciences, business or public administration, or sociology.
Employers usually require applicants to have some park or nature-orientated experience. They will preferably be required to have knowledge in natural or cultural history, fish or wildlife habitat, botany, environmental science, geography, natural resource management and park management, recreation management, recreational use of public lands and facilities, or any other park-related labour, as well as interpersonal relations skills in dealing with the general public.

Remuneration as a ranger can vary but managers and specialised positions can earn a more comfortable salary. Some park rangers may move within different parts of the country and may have the opportunity to become a forest officer, fisheries officer or land protection officer, research program coordinator, or if the opportunity arises they may be able to work as conservation officers with local councils. In many cases, park rangers may progress into professional science positions or general management if a certain level of expertise is obtained.

The ACS Team Approach

ACS was founded by John Mason in 1979 as Australian Horticultural Correspondence School.

Right from these very early times, we've always believed that the best education only comes when the student is learning from the experience of a whole range of industry experts (rather than just a single teacher).

Every ACS course is a work in progress, continually evolving, with new information being added and old information being updated by our team of internationally renowned professional horticulturists.

Over the decades more than 100 horticulture experts from across the world have contributed to these courses, bringing their individual knowledge and experiences from as wide afield as England and Spain to Australia and America.

While may colleges and universities focus on providing courses that relate only to the country where they are based, ACS has always strived to make it's courses relevant to all parts of the world; any climate, economic or cultural situation. This has been achieved by involving a large number of professionals in the course development.

When it comes to tutoring, marking papers and mentoring students, the team approach is just as strong as with our writing. ACS students have the ability to obtain advice and support from staff across the world, with horticulture tutors located in the UK, Australia (both the north and south) and New Zealand.

The ACS team approach and global focus to both course content and student support, ensures our graduates have a unique and "real world" skills set. This unique approach is highly regarded by our colleagues in horticulture.


A course not matter whether it is a certificate or a degree will guarantee you work. These days almost everyone has at least one qualification so a qualification alone will not help you to stand out in a crammed employment market. However because of this not having a qualification will certainly set you apart and may be a stumbling block to even getting as far as an interview. Every time a job is listed it gets a very large response and when employers sift through all these applications they are looking for things that stand out – what you have studies is just one of those things. To catch a potential employer’s attention you have to stand out from the rest!

What do employers look for?

  • Great communication skills:verbal, written and also the ability to use a computer.
  • Problem solving skills: thinking on your feet and working through problems in an orderly way.
  • Efficiency: doing things in a logical order without compromising accuracy improves efficiency.
  • Knowledge and skills demanded of the job.
  • A passion for the work and willingness to learn.
  • Presentation and grooming - people who present as being well organised and well-groomed will impress.


How Will A Course Help Me To Gain those Skills?

Choosing the right course will help i.e. one that develops knowledge, practical skills and also your problem solving abilities. Not all courses do this. At ACS our courses focus on Problem Based Learning so this enables the student to develop these skills and at the same time using this learning method also improves you knowledge retention and recall. Employers and clients don't just want another person with a mainstream qualification who has the same knowledge and abilities as everyone else).

We are a preferred training provider with the Australian Institute of Horticulture; and a member of the careers advisory bureau with the (UK) Institute of Horticulture. (Our principal is the only person to have ever been honoured with fellowships from both of these institutes.

What Can You do to Improve Your Career Prospects?

  • Choose a course that you are passionate about – be open to learning and use this course to start building your future.
  • Today we are expected to keep learning and studying in order to keep up with a world that is rapidly changing. Learning is a lifelong experience.
  • Study a course that makes you stand out - a qualification that is different to all the other applicants will always catch the attention of a boss, and may be the difference between getting an interview or not.
  • Network with people in the industry, attend conferences and trade shows – make yourself known to people in the industry in general. Try to build a range of skills – multi-skilled people catch the eye of the employer or potential employer.
  • Write a good CV and ask for help if you need it. Tutors at this school will help our students with their C.V.'s if you ask - no cost. Resume Writing services can also be used, but they charge. Recognise your weaknesses and work on improving them - not just academically. And also know your strengths and demonstrate them.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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