Construction has begun on a major new project at Natureland that will use sustainable materials and encourage nature play with children that visit the park.
Over 30,000 people a year visit Natureland making it a popular destination in Nelson for both locals and tourists. It is run by the Natureland Wildlife Trust, a conservation charity that is committed to promoting positive relationships between people, environments and animals.
“Our entire team were very moved by the successful outcome of our grant application to NZCT," says Meg Rutledge, Executive Director of the Natureland Wildlife Trust. “The new playground is essential to our overall ability to provide an interactive experience for visitors that is safe and fun.”
The new playground project will improve safety and accessibility for visitors. Natureland’s current playground is nearly 30 years old, no longer suitable and limited in scope and age range. The new playground will be a lot safer so children can explore and have fun in a safe and secure environment. A wider age spectrum will be catered for by the new playground so that multiple children across age groups can enjoy the space, significantly benefiting the families visiting Natureland.
However, the most important aspect of this project was encouraging nature play.
“Nature play is designed to encourage children to explore, create, and test themselves in a safe outdoor environment. It is an essential skill to cognitive development to use your imagination to explore the environment around you, and children receive fewer opportunities to do so in this generation than ever before,” says Meg.
“Encouraging fun outdoor play time is a key part to making our youth curious about our native places. Rather than a metal climbing structure or playground equipment that children are used to seeing, using natural materials and providing more choice in how those materials are engaged with promotes exploration behaviours. We are excited to see visiting children use the playground once it is complete,” adds Meg.
As a conservation charity, sustainability is a key factor for Natureland and partnering with a playground designer that shares their values was very important.
Thanks to the recent grant from NZCT, children visiting Natureland will have the opportunity to play on a purpose-built playground using natural and sustainable materials as well as gaining the confidence to explore their surroundings.