Earlier this year the Boards of The Parks Alliance and The Landscape Institute agreed in principle to bring their organisations closer together in order to create a stronger voice, avoid duplication and to better support the parks and green space sector. The new organisation is The Parks and Green Space Network.
The Network* includes over 50 leaders and experts from across the UK and the public, private and voluntary sectors who will decide on priorities and network members will be able to support delivery according to their interests. *It includes Dave Morris, Chair of our sister organisation the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces
The network’s vision is for everyone has access quality green spaces that improve their physical and mental health, are inclusive and contribute to the sustainability of their community and the world and support the economic vitality of their neighbourhood, town or city. One of its first goals was to ensure parks and green spaces play a key role in the government’s plans for a Green Recovery following the COVID19 pandemic. Members of the network supported the publication of ‘A Green Recovery for Parks and Green Spaces’ aimed at making parks and green spaces a central part of the nation’s economic and social recovery, recognising their role in improving public health and in addressing climate change and restoring nature.
Parks are THE smart infrastructure investment. For every £1 invested in urban green spaces, urban communities receive £7 in well being benefits. Parks in England deliver over £6.6bn of health, climate change and environmental benefits each year, including £2.2bn in avoided health costs alone. To seize these opportunities, the government must give them the support they need.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we have the opportunity to make parks and green spaces a central part of the nation’s economic and social recovery. We need to recognise their role in improving public health, addressing climate change and reversing biodiversity loss.
The report’s recommendations to government include:
‘Level up’ access to parks and green space. One in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden. . In England, black people are nearly four times as likely as white people to have no access to outdoor space at home.
- Invest at least £1bn per year into parks and green spaces. Under–investment is rife, with billions of pounds lost in health and well being as a result. We need ‘shovel-worthy’, not just ‘shovel-ready’ projects, delivered in ways that address climate change, prioritise communities most in need, and improve our quality of life. We also need to make the most of the assets we already have, supporting skills and long-term maintenance.
- Place the same focus on sustainable operational funding for parks and green spaces as we do for capital investment.
- Invest in a talented green workforce. Our sector can help to create new green jobs, especially for young people and those living in disadvantaged areas. (The new level 3 Landscape Technician apprenticeship for parks provides an excellent opportunity for employers recruit more young people into this critical sector.)
- Introduce clearer rules and new green space standards in England to avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ in planning laws. We must avoid falling further behind countries such as Wales, Scotland, and overseas green infrastructure leaders such as Singapore.
The main report from the Landscape Institute, ‘ GREENER RECOVERY – Delivering a sustainable recovery from COVID-19’, can be found here.
The Supplement ‘A Green Recovery for Parks and Green Spaces’ can be found here.