Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park and the Kings Park Education program have been recognised as 'raising the bar' in environmental education at the 25th Banksia Sustainability Awards.
The Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority's Manager of Visitor Services and Community Engagement Jacqui Kennedy described the hive of daily activity at Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park as extremely satisfying.
'We decided to enter the Banksia Awards based on two key words in the award criteria - sustainability and innovation. Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park is sustainable on many levels from the opportunities to educate the next generation about environmental sustainability, to the strength of the economic partnership behind the project.
'When we took this project on, we knew it was a big undertaking, but really we had no idea just how all-consuming and challenging it would be - from so many perspectives. A large dose of courage and stubborn determination were certainly required to see it through. It is wonderful to be recognised in these prestigious awards and to feel we have succeeded.'
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park is a world-first education facility providing new ways to educate young Western Australians about the state's unique plant biodiversity and conservation. The project arose out of growing community concerns that urban children are becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world, a trend described by author Richard Louv as 'Nature Deficit Disorder'.
In two short years, the site has become a benchmark for the development of environmental education areas with no plastic play equipment, soft-fall matting, handrails on the bridges or bins, and limited signage.
Kings Park Education, a school service that combines unstructured play with structured programs that encourage exploration and learning, is based within the site.
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park has been made possible through a large cross-sector partnership including Rio Tinto, Water Corporation, the Friends of Kings Park with Lotterywest and the Perth Solar Cities program.
Over 165,000 visitors have passed through the gates since the site opened in October 2011.