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Green Flag Award Parks will reach record numbers across Ireland in 2017

Green Flag Award winning parks at the Bangor Castle Award Ceremony on Thursday, July 27. Photograph by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The parks won their Green Flag by exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management and for the excellence of their visitor facilities.

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Sports & Parks

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2 August 2017 | 0

Bangor Castle provided the perfect backdrop as a record 60 parks and green spaces in Northern Ireland received their Green Flag Awards for exceeding tough environmental standards for green space management, and for the excellence of their visitor facilities.

Last week’s award ceremony in Bangor Castle closely follows an award show held at Malahide Castle Visitors Centre in mid-July, when 36 Irish Parks from across the Republic of Ireland also achieved Green Flag Status.

Operated by An Taisce Environmental Education within the Republic of Ireland, and by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful in Northern Ireland, the Green Flag Award for Parks Scheme is an international programme.

Having already been established in Northern Ireland since 2008, last year saw the initial introduction of the Green Flag Award for Parks Scheme into the Republic of Ireland. This has resulted in some of our most significant landmark parks and estates being recognised for the quality of their recreational and historic green space.

The Green Flag Award scheme is also operating across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Australia, and New Zealand.

The international aspect of this award scheme provides an accelerated method to introduce best practice management of parks across borders. This year Republic of Ireland Green Flag Award Judges assisted with surveying sites in Northern Ireland, while their Northern Ireland counterparts also travelled south to assist with park surveys in Counties Louth and Dublin.

This record 2017 Green Flag Award season has seen 14 first time winners across the Republic of Ireland, and another 14 first time winning parks in Northern Ireland. The winners this year include not only parks from urban centres such as Dublin, but also parks from towns within the Ancient East Region, including Dundalk, Kildare, and New Ross. New entrants also feature from locations along the Wild Atlantic Way such as Vandeleur Walled Gardens, and Garinish Island.

The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal – Damien English T.D., was in attendance to open the award ceremony at Malahide Castle, and to support the important role played by local authorities.

Minister English said that: “The Green Flag Awards encourage the provision of good quality public parks and green spaces that are managed in environmentally sustainable ways. The act of planning, creating, and using a public utility, be it a community garden, park or open space, brings people, communities and neighbours together.  It is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle to have access to, and to be able to enjoy, outdoor amenities particularly those which are so well tended and maintained”.

At Bangor Castle’s Award Ceremony, Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, also pointed out how important parks have now become to our urban societies; saying: “Parks matter to our society; this year more than 37 million people throughout the UK will visit a park, this is five million more than voted in June’s General Election!”

The Green Flag Awards are judged every year by a peer jury of green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, and community involvement. In Ireland the Green Flag Award for Parks Scheme has been enthusiastically received by park management as it delivers major wins for the delivery of quality green spaces by respective parks and park departments.

If you are interested in finding out further information about the Green Flag Award or other programmes run by An Taisce Environmental Education Unit please e-mail us at rmoss@eeu.antaisce.org or telephone: 01 4002212

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