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Parks and Gardens

Public parks and gardens managed by councils/government (includes botanical gardens).



Urban Ecosystems


What ecosystem functions do parks and gardens perform?

Park areas like these on the Gold Coast foreshore provide access to coastal ecosystems and opportunities for recreation.

Urban parks and gardens provide convenient places that encourage and provide opportunity for outdoor and active lifestyles. Urban parks and gardens provide places for a diverse range of physical activities including: going for a stroll; walking the dog; riding your bike; launching the canoe for a paddle down the creek; or competing in sports such as a game of rugby or soccer. In highly urbanised locations, urban parks and gardens provide important opportunities for retreat from the built environment.

Table 1 presents the magnitude parks and gardens perform different ecosystem functions relative to other ecosystems in SEQ. The dense ground covers (e.g. grasses) in urban parks and gardens provide an effective method of regulating water flow (both its spatial and temporal distribution) and the transportation, storage and recycling of nutrients and excess organic and inorganic wastes. These buffers work by slowing runoff so that water-borne pollutants (e.g. sediments and nutrients) can be filtered out by both the structural influence of the vegetation and the process of soil infiltration. This function is particularly important in highly urbanised locations where catchments have been ‘hardened’ with higher incidences of roofs, paving and other hard surfaces. As many parks and gardens have a dominant vegetation cover of grasses they rely on pollination provided by birds, insects or wind to regenerate. 

Parks and gardens, particularly botanical gardens with a high diversity of species, provide a storehouse of genetic resources from within the region, across Australia and internationally. Also, parks and gardens provide food and pharmacological resources for a range of species such as birds, mammals, reptiles and insects - the higher the diversity of species in parks the higher the potential to perform these functions. Vegetation (both grasses and larger trees) provide shade and shelter for animals, people and structures and ameliorate extremes in weather and climate at local scales. These ecosystems contribute to water supply through precipitate processes or through multi-purpose use (e.g. some parks are specifically located in know areas of flooding).


Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other Ecosystem Reporting Categories) parks and gardens perform each ecosystem function.

Ecosystem Function Category Ecosystem Function 0
Regulating Functions
Gas Regulation            
Climate Regulation            
Disturbance Regulation            
Water Regulation            
Soil Retention            
Nutrient Regulation            
Waste Treatment and Assimilation            
Biological Control            
Barrier Effect of Vegetation            
Supporting Functions
Supporting Habitats            
Soil Formation            
Provisioning Functions
Raw Materials            
Water Supply            
Genetic Resources            
Provision of Shade and Shelter            
Pharmacological Resources            
Cultural Functions
Landscape Opportunity            


What types of park and gardens are in SEQ?

Urban parks and gardens occur in a range of contexts across an urban area. Park types generally include:

•  informal use – provides a setting for informal, unstructured recreation and social activities, such as walking, picnicking and children’s play;
•  sports – provides a setting for formal, structured sport activities, such as team competitions, physical skill development and training;
•  corridors / linkages – provides pedestrians and cyclists with access and links in a parkland setting;
• landscape amenity – protects and enhances parkland with landscape amenity values, such as landmarks or signature points (e.g. memorials or monuments);
•  community use – provides a setting for formal and informal community activities such as community meetings, community support, youth recreation, art and craft and theatre.

Nature reserves or natural area parks are not included under this Ecosystem Reporting Category, they are categorised under other Ecosystem Reporting Categories depending on landcover/vegetation types.


What is the area and extent of parks and gardens in SEQ?


Parks and gardens provide green spaces amongst hard surfaces in urbanised areas.

Parks and gardens provide places to relax and for social interaction amongst friends and families.

Links to other publications and websites

The Age - Demand for Parks
Global Garden Report 2012
The Local Tourist

Park and garden ecosystems cover approximately 173 km2, 0.69% of SEQ. This map shows parks and gardens (e.g. reserves) can be found scattered across the whole of SEQ. These parks and gardens provide green infrastructure that support urban development and therefore are located within residential areas predominantly along the coast of SEQ. Sparse areas of this ecosystem can be found in the west. Private gardens are not included in this map (see Residential Gardens).


What is the vulnerability of parks and gardens and threats to this ecosystem in SEQ?

Natural threats to parks and gardens include storms, droughts, creek and river flooding, cyclones and storm tide inundation and sea level rise (longer-term). Parks and gardens are susceptible to human threats such as linear infrastructure projects, particularly roads, busways, or railways. Lack of recognition of the important roles that urban parks and gardens play whereby they are seen as unproductive assets that can be capitalised resulting in their loss through sale of the land and redevelopment for urban purposes. Other human threats to parks and gardens include illegal fires, vandalism, littering and excessive community usage. 


How do we manage parks and gardens in SEQ?

Parks and gardens are by nature human modified systems generally requiring a high level of human management. In managing parks and gardens, Park Managers currently seek to:

• continue to satisfy legal requirements detailed in State and Federal legislation (e.g. fire, pest, pollution, heritage, conservation requirements) and utilise appropriate enabling legislation, such as Local Laws, to guide and regulate activities on and the use of public open space;
• operate efficiently and prioritise expenditure in a limited resource environment;
• utilise responsible property management skills, including acquisition, development and occasionally disposal of land to ensure a network of open space which is easily accessible and equitably distributed throughout the city;
• ensure that the type of facilities and level of maintenance provided in public open spaces reflect the values and use intent of those spaces;
• manage funds received (e.g. from development charges, rate base, grants) to enable delivery of public open space obligations;
• ensure adequate and sound factual evidence informs decision making regarding public open space;
• recognise that management of public open spaces requires input by properly skilled people;
• recognise, and aim to optimise, the multiple values of urban parks and gardens and their elements, while minimising risks and liabilities.

Future urban park planning and management seeks to:

• increase sustainability outcomes through the inclusion of water sensitive urban design treatments, energy efficient design features, use of renewable or recycled materials, local nature play for children, increased shade cover, and landscape treatments using predominantly locally occurring native species;
• standardise park assets to assist in the ease of replacement assets, and to minimise the ongoing costs associated with park maintenance (eg turf management);
• research community needs and desired uses to guide actively programming a diverse range of social, recreation and sporting activities and facilities in urban parks and gardens to increase the community’s use and enjoyment of these spaces;
• trial new approaches to park planning and facility development using ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’ techniques to provide more cost-effective park assets, and to provide more flexible and adaptable facilities to meet community needs. ‘Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper’ techniques may include the use of food vendor vans, moveable tables and chairs, movie events during summer evenings, or temporary road closures with bollards and planter boxes;
• set tree cover targets and implications of a 'no net canopy area loss' policy in relation to impacts;
• partner with beneficiaries of ecosystem services (eg. water, energy, health, active transport) to better deliver multiple benefits.