Thriving future for Edinburgh's parks thanks to new national fund award

Scotland’s Capital has today [17 June 2019] been announced as one of eight urban areas to share in £11 million worth of funding to secure the future of the UK’s parks and greenspaces.

West Princes Street Gardens
West Princes Street Gardens

The new Future Parks fund is a pioneering programme designed to find sustainable ways to manage and fund parks and open spaces across entire towns and cities.

The fund was launched today by the National Trust and National Heritage Lottery Fund, with support from the UK government.

Across the UK, the Future Parks initiative is investing more than £6m of National Lottery and government funding, and £5m worth of advice and support from some of the country’s leading experts in conservation, fundraising, volunteering and green space management from the National Trust. In Scotland the programme is being supported by the National Trust for Scotland.

Edinburgh was one of 81 councils and communities from across the UK to apply for the funding and is the only Scottish city to be successful, with an award of £899,500.

Alongside the Council, bid partners were: greenspace scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Green Spaces Forum (the umbrella group for Edinburgh’s Friends of Parks groups, Natural Heritage Sites and cemeteries).

The funding will be used to work collectively and collaboratively with numerous partner organisations, community groups and members of the public to develop an ambitious 30-year strategy for the city’s parks and greenspaces so that they continue to flourish well into the future.

Aligned with the Edinburgh 2050 City Vision, the aim of the strategy is to arrive at a new way of working to ensure parks and greenspaces’ ongoing enhancement, protection and care.

Other places which have been successful are: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Edinburgh, Islington and Camden, Nottingham and Plymouth.

City of Edinburgh Council Parks Leader Councillor Karen Doran said: “Edinburgh is already a wonderfully green city – the UK’s greenest*, in fact – and we want to ensure it remains that way for generations to come. Thanks to this much-sought-after funding we’ll be able to tackle this challenge directly with the public, together with our partners on the bid, to explore what it means to be a thriving green city.

“Our work will determine how we change and adapt the ways in which we manage our parks and greenspaces, to ensure that they continue to play an active role in delivering benefits in areas such as health and wellbeing, active travel, biodiversity, recreation and social cohesion.  We know our parks and greenspaces offer solutions for many of the environmental and social challenges we face today, and this funding offers the opportunity to ensure that these benefits are experienced by as many of our residents and visitors as possible for generations to come.

“Thriving Green Spaces promises to be an exciting, challenging and rewarding project for everyone who gets involved and we can’t wait to get cracking.”

Stuart Brooks, Head of Conservation and Policy at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Edinburgh has a wealth of cultural and natural heritage within its parks and greenspaces which benefit everyone. Future Parks will secure and expand these benefits through a partnership that shares a positive vision for places and people.”

“This is why we are so delighted to play our part in this far-sighted initiative and we commend Edinburgh’s foresight and ambition.  Re-thinking our parks and the role they play in our lives is vital to the sustainable future and liveability of cities.”

Julie Procter, greenspace scotland, said: "Parks and greenspaces make a big difference to our quality of life, but across the UK parks are under pressure.

 "We're therefore delighted to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and partners on this innovative and ground-breaking project to develop an ambitious,  long-term, strategic approach to managing, resourcing and animating the city's greenspaces.

 "Through greenspace scotland's work with the Scottish Park Managers Forum and greenspace networks, the learning from Thriving Green Spaces will be shared widely with other Councils and communities to ensure Scotland's parks continue to thrive and benefit future generations."

Charlie Cumming, Chief Executive, Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust, said “ We are delighted to be working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and other partner organisations to develop a strategic and sustainable approach to help improve Edinburgh’s greenspaces for future generations. We will look to work with local communities to ensure that their views on parks and their future management are central to the plans so that Edinburgh’s wonderful greenspaces remain fit for purpose and enjoyable for everyone.”

Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility & Sustainability at the University of Edinburgh, said: "The University continually seeks to strengthen its relationships with the people and city it is a part of. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting project and look forward to shaping a positive, innovative vision for the green spaces of the future, which are vital for wellbeing, health and nature.”

Jo Pike, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “This important funding award will support innovation and help partners to identify new ways of ensuring that Edinburgh’s parks and greenspaces can deliver maximum benefits for people and wildlife. This is a positive step towards Edinburgh Living Landscape’s long-term vision of ensuring that nature is at the heart of the city’s future.”

John Kerr of the Edinburgh Greenspaces Forum said: "The Edinburgh Green Spaces Forum is delighted to be working alongside the City of Edinburgh Council and other partner organisations on the Edinburgh’s Thriving Green Spaces initiative. With the magnificent funding from the National Lottery and National Trust we can work to develop a strategy for managing our green spaces so they can continue to be enjoyed by, and provide benefits to, residents and visitors alike, while improving the environment of the city. The volunteers in our Friends Groups give up many hours of their time, and bring many different skills, to improve our parks, nature reserves and cemeteries and we also look forward to working alongside community groups in other cities to share experiences and learn from one another."


* Edinburgh was named the UK's greenest city in a nationwide study in January 2019 

Thriving Green Spaces project scope: The project will cover all the publicly accessible green space network managed by the Council for a resident population of 513,200 people, 92,000 daily commuters and 4.26 million annual tourists.  This green network extends over 1600 hectares and includes: 3 botanic gardens; 142 public parks, mature woodlands, and major recreational green spaces; 8 nature reserves and country parks; 99 school grounds; 186 sports pitches; 39 cemeteries, historic burial grounds and kirkyards; 425 housing amenity areas; 109 allotments and community gardens; 213 local play spaces; 202km of active travel route; 620,000 trees; 66km of riversides and burns; and the 10,000 ha Pentland Hills Regional Park.  Other major public green space owners/managers in the city will be invited to engage in the project and align priorities.


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