Noel MacKenzie is a graduate in Ecology from Lancaster and Oregon State Universities and before working as a sports turf Agronomist worked in several roles as a professional consultant Ecologist carrying out site surveys as part of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) for Lancaster University and Gillespies Landscape Consultants and taking part in a large study with the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) concerning grassland management and mapping in the South Peak District.
During the course of his consulting work, especially on golf courses, Noel does become involved with ecological elements of the site management and this can translate into significant change for a golf course. Many golf courses non-playing areas tend to receive only passing attention as the main focus for their upkeep must be the playing surfaces. However, trees spread and encroach on the playing surfaces to interfere with play and require management and management planning, often requiring long term e.g. 50+ years future vison. Furthermore, well meant past tree planting and other efforts to enhance a course without understanding its natural ecosystem type based on climatic and soil factors has often meant courses have been degraded ecologically rather than enhanced.
Noel MacKenzie has the skillset to identify where potential exists or where degredation of the course is causing real harm and threatening a course’s long term future. This is combined with knowing the correct management mechanisms to proceed with that will enhance a course and bring diversity and interest delivering ecological and conservation benefits. This can transfer into changing a course to give it a new and unique selling point to potential players considering venues for their golf. This has included successfully re-stablishing gorse on fairway divides, removal of conifer and poor plantation to create species diverse calcareous grassland, creating species mixes for tree and hedge planting, etc.
Aside from the ecological benefits such changes can also bring easier and more cost effective operational benefits. This ultimately is our goal, to produce a Win:Win outcome where the course operates more efficiently and effectively becoming more attractive and “sellable” as a golfing experience while enjoying ecological and conservation benefits that enhance the reputation of not only your club and course but also the wider golf industry.
Sports Turf Consulting does not tend to undertake detailed ecological surveys preferring instead to utilise County Wildlife Officers, Wildlife Trusts of specialist Ecological Consultancies where possible (and helping to source grants in the process sometimes). However, with Noel MacKenzie’s experience and “street credibility” when working with expert field Ecologists they can appreciate how the golf course is an asset and how working within the confines of the site usage works for their causes as well as golf.
Beyond golf there are many other sites where Noel has worked and achieved small “wins” for conservation be it replacing hedges or developing a wildlife friendly area on a unused area of a sportsfield or sports complex. This includes educational dipping ponds for school use and species diverse bank seeding and planting on cut and fill sites during construction.
If this element of golf course and sports ground maintenance and management is something of interest then we are happy to diversify off the sports turf agronomy to use the other skills and knowledge we possess to forward your facilities in conservation and wildlife management.
If you would like to discuss your individual requirements please contact Noel MacKenzie for further information.