As a current Green Flag Awards judge I’d like to inform you that this year, The Green Flag Award scheme is celebrating it Silver Jubilee (25 years ) of service provision.
The Green Flag Award scheme for parks was first introduced in 1996 in the UK by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with the intention of establishing agreed standards of good management, to help to justify and evaluate funding and to raise park attendance.
Since then, the scheme has grown and grown with over 2,000 spaces now flying a Green Flag Award, in over 15 countries across the globe including the USA, Australia, Sweden and Abu Dhabi. To celebrate this 25th anniversary of the scheme Green Flag will be running a number of promotions and special moments throughout the year.
You could say I am biased, but I know how important the Green Flag organisation is. These parks and public open spaces are very important to our wellbeing. A quote from my fellow Green Flag judge, Howard Medlicott (ex parks manager) sums up the importance of parks perfectly. He said, “The real value of such open spaces needs to be considered, the benefits to health, mental and physical welfare are so important. Obesity is now a problem in society and the Covid pandemic has demonstrated the importance of access to Public Open Space. In addition, these land assets contribution to biodiversity and habitat diversity”.
The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.
The overall purpose and aims of Green Flag Awards is to :-
- To ensure that everybody has access to quality green and other open spaces, irrespective of where they live.
- To ensure that these spaces are appropriately managed and meet the needs of the communities that they serve.
- To establish standards of good management.
- To promote and share good practice amongst the green space sector.
- To recognise and reward the hard work of managers, staff and volunteers.
I am hoping by the time it comes to the annual Green Flag judging window (May- June), we may be out of lockdown and I along with fellow Green Flag judges will be able to physically visit and judge this year’s round of nominated local authorities parks and public run open spaces.
Other parks resources
There is some great information on the value of Public open space as portrayed by a survey conducted by Fields In Trust.
Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces aims to change perceptions by establishing a baseline for the value that parks and green spaces contribute to health and wellbeing rather than simply being judged by what they cost to maintain. The research findings demonstrate that parks and green spaces across the United Kingdom provide people with over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits.
Also, there are also a number of parks seminars and training days being promoted by APSE and The Amenity Forum.
APSE Parks and Greenspaces Seminar will be something worth attending on Thursday 11 March
Nicola Dempsey, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield will explain about the work the Green Flag Awards and partner organisations have undertaken to create a link between universities/research organisations and parks management, to share research findings and possibly also funding opportunities for parks and green spaces. And Jo Regan from The Greater Manchester Ignition Project will outline the findings of its Parks Users Survey which asked parks users across Greater Manchester to share their thoughts with local authority parks providers as to how they use their public parks and greenspaces and why they are important to them.
While there are still opportune to attend this Year’s remaining three Amenity Forum Workshop events at the tailend of February / early March /
I also read that the Grounds Management Association (GMA) have published some new guidelines in the form of a GMA toolkit.
The GMA has also announced the launch of #GroundsWeek.
The inaugural celebration week will take place March (1 -7 March 2021) and will celebrate and highlight the vital role of professional grounds staff, volunteers, and the turf sector play in making sport possible.
Following a difficult year for the sector, due to the impact of Covid-19, the GMA say they aim to showcase grounds staff and the amazing work that they do – and have continued to do – despite sport coming to a grinding halt. It also comes after a year where parks and green spaces have been valuable to the public’s health – with increased use for ‘daily exercise’ and physical activity.
With spring just around the corner, the next two months are going to be terribly busy period for grounds professionals (groundsmen and gardeners) who will no bout be busy preparing for the start of the new growing season.
With the Government now looking to get schools back up and running, it will be all hands-on deck for their grounds teams who will have to ensure the school grounds are safe secure and ready for use.
As we come out of a depressing winter, this spring will hopefully be the catalyst to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic and finally there may a light at the end of the tunnel in us getting back to some form of normality - especially we now have vaccinated over a quarter of our UK population.