Green Flag Awards debut in Edinburgh

If going for a walk in one of Edinburgh’s parks doesn’t inspire you, it should. Two Edinburgh parks, Harrison Park in the Polwarth area and Braid Burn Valley Park in South Morningside, have become the first in Scotland to receive the prestigious Green Flag Award.

The Green Flag Award scheme has been the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales since 1996 and is being piloted in Scotland this year in partnership with Greenspace Scotland. The benchmark aims to encourage the provision of safe, clean and accessible public parks which are managed in an environmentally sustainable way.

Both Braid Burn Valley Park and Harrison Park are important community parks in Edinburgh’s green heritage. Their recent development has been sparked by the establishment of local ‘Friends’ groups who work in partnership with the Council to oversee the management, maintenance and development of the green spaces. Karen Young, Chair of the Friends of Braid Burn Valley Park (pictured above) said,”We are delighted that our park has received this prestigious award. It is because of the hard work of local schools and people, along with Edinburgh Council, that we are the first in Scotland to achieved the Green Flag.”

Recent projects including upgrading of paths, signage, wildflower meadow plantings, tree and naturalised bulb planting, and environmental education and promotional packs have all contributed to making Braid Burn Valley Park and Harrison Park (pictured below) accessible and popular community green spaces.

Harrison Park

“Green Flag Awards are about moving the focus on greenspace to where it really matters,” says Julie Proctor, Chief Officer of Greenspace Scotland “– improving the quality of our parks and greenspaces and making sure they meet the needs of the local community.

“Dundee City and City of Edinburgh Councils deserve real credit for agreeing to be ‘guinea pigs’ and putting their reputations on the line by putting three of their parks under the spotlight and submitting to the judge’s scrutiny.”

There has recently been much discussion about the declining quality of our city parks and lack of focus upon rural green spaces. While this is undoubtedly a cause for concern in many places, there are also plenty of examples of thriving, popular sites run by dedicated, enthusiastic people working closely with their local communities. Many places that were run-down and neglected just a few years ago are now shining examples of outstanding green space management. The Green Flag Award Scheme aims to be the impetus to an ever-increasing improvement in the quality of parks and green spaces.

The Blue Flag scheme for beaches is proving a significant factor in the country’s tourist industry, one of the country’s most significant income spinners. Needless to say, the scheme is worthless unless it is policed and standards are maintained, therefore the award must be renewed every year. With one of Dundee’s parks also achieving Green Flag satatus, could the Green Flag scheme also point the way to parks becoming tourist attractions in Scotland? More interestingly, will the Flag influence the decisions of residents to make use of their local amenity areas and will the Award be achievable in areas of social deprivation?

About Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.
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