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Parks Forum ceases operations

Parks Forum ceases operations
November 13, 2014

The Parks Forum, the peak body representing major park management agencies in Australia and New Zealand, has apparently ceased operations.

A worsening financial situation and a failure to secure funding for research into projects on the benefits of public parks are believed to be behind the recent decision by Parks Forum board members to cease operations.

With a vision for a strong and vibrant parks industry, the Parks Forum sought to unite and provide leadership for the parks industry, assisting the industry to take up its role as a significant contributor to the health of society and environment, and also as an important sector in the economy.

Incorporated in 2004, the Parks Forum attracted major parks management agencies including Auckland Council; Parks Victoria; Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth and Centennial Parklands in Sydney.

However, hefty membership fees, in excess of $10,000 a year, and uncertainty over its role and relationships with existing parks management peak bodies including the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) and Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) were seen as a deterrent to membership.

In addition, the presence of a range of international organisations representing park management including the International Federation for Parks and Recreation Administation (IFPRA), Parks for Life and the World Urban Parks Organisation created a confusing picture for potential members and backers.

The Parks Forum also managed the Parks Week initiative and the Green Flag Awards in Australia and New Zealand and was one of the founding bodies of the International Urban Parks and Green Space Alliance (IUPGSA) - another international parks organisation. It also hosted biennial conferences, with its 2012 event in Adelaide and its 2010 event in Sydney.

While the Parks Forum’s website is no longer active, members are being consulted on future directions via email.

Related industry associations including IFPRA, NZRA and PLA are understood to currently be assessing taking on former Parks Forum projects.

Ian Walker, the Chair of the Parks Forum since 2012, has been contacted for comment but declined the opportunity to make an ‘on the record’ statement.

Do you know more about this story? Please contact leisure@ausleisure.com.au

Article amended 9.23am 13th November 2014.

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