In recent years environmental awareness has significantly increased. People are far better informed and react more quickly to the pressures on the environment and natural resources. Much of this environmental pressure is attributable to a burgeoning world population and the resultant urbanisation.
The associated demand requires provision of services, together with housing and recreational facilities. Tourism is at the forefront of the demand for recreational facilities and contributes to this environmental pressure.
If such development continues at the present rate it is imperative that it be managed in a way which is environmentally sustainable.
The conservation and management of our natural resources is important, as is our recognition and definition of those resources.
Golf Courses are increasingly recognised by conservationists , bird societies and others for their conservation value and for being integral in the preservation of our indigenous flora and fauna.
While our Society cannot hope to solve the world's environmental issues, we acknowledge that a significant responsibility lies with all of us to act at the local level in addressing these issues.
As designers we are taking an increased responsibility in the protection of the environment, in its enhancement and creation.
Golf Courses provide a unique opportunity to create within their boundaries a 'Wildlife Sanctuary', which preserves and enhances an often rich variety of native birdlife, animals and vegetation, thereby enriching the ecology of the region. Many golf courses house significant areas of natural landscape (some 65% of the site), consisting of rough and non golf play areas, natural grasses, tress and shrubs.
Careful management actively promotes desirable habitat via sound practices such as weed control to eliminate competition on the more delicate endemic species.
In broader terms golf courses act as important 'links' of green space across a region, particularly in an urban context.
Australia boasts some 1500 golf courses of which a large number occur within urban environments, occupying approximately 100,000 hectares of land. This is a similar area to greater Melbourne and a substantial area preserved as open space at a time when parks and gardens are constantly under pressure of being 'concreted over'. The remnant indigenous vegetation found within many of our golf courses serve to protect the gene stock of our floral heritage.
Golf Courses are contiguous with green belts and compatible land uses such as sporting reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands and forest.
In this way golf courses preserve, protect and enhance flora and fauna. Golf Courses also serve as a 'buffer' between sensitive natural environments and cities and industrial areas.
The degradation of soil appears in many forms such as acidification , salination and erosion.
With the scarcity of soils in some parts of Australia, years of poor farming practice have seen millions of cubic meters of topsoil literally washed and blown away, ending up in our waterways, lakes and oceans. Topsoil is vital in not only maintaining an environmental equilibrium but also in practical and economic terms for building materials and farming. However as with all natural resources it must be managed in a sustainable manner.
Vegetation plays a significant role in the sustainable management of soil. Vegetation, particularly turfgrass, successfully controls water's erosive power. A dense root and shoot system creates an organic thatch layer which filters and slows surface water runoff. Research has shown that even during high rainfall periods (6-7 cm/hr), turf hold up to 20 times more soil than traditionally farmed cropland.
Golf Courses play a significant role in the management of water, aiding in the conservation and preservation of water resources. Golf Courses act as a natural filter of stormwater and runoff. Turfgrass, together with the natural landscape function in trapping sediment and pollutants before they enter common waterways. The containment of water on site helps in flood control and filtration whilst contributing to the recharge of aquifers and groundwater which may otherwise pollute nearby waterways.
Often economic limitations make it difficult to rehabilitate scarred and degraded landscapes such as landfill, quarries, tip sites and barren rural land.
Golf Courses provide a viable land use for land degraded over time by intensive land use or mismanagement. Golf Courses can contribute to the reinstatement of the natural processes of a healthy environment by reconditioning degraded soils and restoring natural systems.
Perhaps the most significant benefit is in providing a new use for this land with wide community benefit.
Golf provides over 2 million Australians of all ages with the motivation to pursue outdoors exercise. The average round of golf takes the player on a 7-8 km walk. Research shows that this alone can reduce cholesterol levels. Additionally golfers are exposed to the unconscious benefit of their natural surroundings whilst chasing the 'elusive little white ball'. Studies show that a pleasant landscape positively contributes to the mental well being of its viewer. For example hospital patients are known to recover more quickly when blessed with a pleasant landscape view. This benefit, together with the ability of a game of golf to provide the temporary escape from the pressures of day to day life make golf an extremely healthy pursuit for mind and body.
The Australia landscape is not easily defined or typified. Across our vast continent the climate, topography, flora and fauna varies considerably. Ranging from the extreme intensity of our center, to the tropical abundance of the far north and the coastal heath of our southern parts, the landscape's character and form are constantly changing. Australians and visitors to our country are afforded the opportunity to experience the Australian landscape, where ever they might be, whilst enjoying a round of golf.
Golf Courses are vital in this role providing opportunities for a wide cross section of the community to experience our natural landscape.
Golf Courses also recognise the importance of cultural, rural and historic landscapes which may be managed in an appropriate way so as to not significantly impact upon golf strategy.
Vegetation has the unique capability of improving the quality of air we breathe as well as producing it. Photosynthesis is a process whereby carbon dioxide is consumed by the plant, converting it into oxygen. Research shows that an area of 180 square meters of turfgrass, grasslands, shrub and tress produces enough oxygen for one person for one year.
Turfgrass and trees also have the effect of reducing the heat of an area. Planting around buildings and carparks provide the dual benefits of a more comfortable environment whilst reducing cooling costs.
The reliance upon potable water to irrigate a golf course is an issue gaining increased attention. Golf Courses face the reality that when striving for sustainability they must not only seek alternate water sources but more effective water usage/management practices. Where feasible golf courses can offset their potable water usage by the use of alternative water sources. As the costs of potable water rise there is an economic incentive to supplement potable water with effluent and/or stormwater. Filtering effluent and stormwater through a golf course lessens the pollution and sedimentation of our waterways.
The use of secondary treated effluent has the added advantage of supplying up to 70% of the nutrient requirement needed to maintain 'quality' turfgrass, lessening the need for chemical support.
Golf Courses provide the opportunity to enrich the environment by housing a diverse and rich ecology. Significant ecosystems such as a wetlands provide a valuable resource in terms of an education facility for golfers and interest groups alike. The habitat qualities of wetlands sustain many varieties of migratory birds, native animals, fish, insects and plant life. Guided walks educate and alert participants to the environmental issues within the golf course as well as within the broader context of the region.
The Society of Australian Golf Course Architects have formulated this brochure as an indication of their philosophy and general practice, with the full support and acknowledgment of the Australian Golf Union.
The Society of Australian Golf Course Architects
Unit 2, 60 Bay Road
VIC 3191 AUSTRALIA
Ph: +61 7 5530 3143
As designers we are taking an increase reasonability in the protection of the environment, in the enhancement and creation
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