Education – Raising the Bar Award
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park
Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, WA
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park (Naturescape) is a place for children to connect with nature. It is also the new home of Kings Park Education (KPE) and is the first project of its kind we know of in the world. The project arose out of growing community concerns that urban children are spending less time outdoors exploring nature and, as such, are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Ultimately, the purpose of Naturescape is to motivate young Western Australians to appreciate and protect our unique, fragile and precious environment by giving children a hands-on experience of nature. Naturescape covers 60,000 sqm and features a series of unique zones including hidden thickets, a creek, tree hides, a cubby building area, upside-down trees with climbing ropes and a wetland. These zones are connected by meandering paths, boardwalks and bridges which offer a sense of immersion in the bush. Two thirds of the area is for public access and one third is a dedicated Education zone. The key to its educational success has been the synergy of mixing unstructured play with structured programs to encourage exploration and learning. Naturescape is providing new ways to educate young Western Australians about WA’s unique plant biodiversity and its conservation. The project has been made possible through a large cross-sector partnership. The untested nature of this project has presented challenges: funding, risk management, conservation challenges – which have been overcome with a mixture of expertise, innovation, persistence and courage. Naturescape is located in Kings Park, Perth – the most visited place in WA.
Comments from Judges
The Judges have found this to be a key educational success based on the synergy of mixing unstructured play with structured programs to encourage exploration and learning