Record number of Irish parks and gardens receive 2020 Green Flag Awards
Ireland’s international accreditation for park excellence has jumped again this year
24 September 2020
International accreditation for park excellence in Ireland has jumped again this year, as a record number of Irish parks and gardens receive Green Flag Awards.
An Taisce Environmental Education recently revealed that 84 parks and gardens from across the Republic of Ireland have been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award for 2020. The 2020 awards were available to public town parks, country parks, gardens, cemeteries, nature parks and green spaces from across the whole country.
Only awarded for exceeding tough environmental standards in green space management, and excellence of visitor attractions – the Green Flag Award for parks is the mark of a quality park or green space and is recognised throughout the world.
From the 15 countries whose parks met the standard this year, more Green Flag Awards were secured by Irish parks and gardens than by any country, other than the UK where the scheme originated in 1996.
Numbers of international Green Flag Award sites for the best parks and gardens to visit in Ireland surged again this year. New Green Flag parks and gardens, accredited by teams of trained volunteer judges, include for the first-time sites from Cavan, Donegal, and Waterford.
The Green Flag Awards have expanded to include new types of public green spaces. Ireland notably achieved a huge increase in urban park Green Flag accreditations across Dublin, Galway, and Waterford cities. In Waterford, the country’s first Greenway was accredited, and in Cavan a UNESCO Global Geopark became a Green Flag Award site for the first time.
This year has also seen the number of Green Flag Community Award sites in Ireland more than double from last year. Additional community run parks and gardens were accredited in counties Carlow, Donegal, Fingal – North County Dublin, Kildare, Galway, Roscommon, and Wexford. In all 14, amenities maintained by community groups are being acknowledged for the excellence of their volunteer run community green spaces.
The Green Flag Community Award extends the scheme to include community initiatives such as community gardens, community parks, and Tidy Towns Projects. By providing our community green spaces with access to Green Flag Award best practice we empower community groups to improve their local community and environment. In Ireland, the coordination of the Green Flag Community Award Scheme is made possible by the support of the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Four of the 2020 Green Flag Award winning parks were also identified by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for an additional Pollinator Project Award. This award is specifically for those Green Flag Parks or Gardens that have made an effort to support the local pollinating insect populations, or to promote their importance. The Pollinator Project Award is jointly run with An Taisce Environmental Education to support the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, and is kindly sponsored by Young’s Nurseries. While there are pollinator project awards across different park categories it was Maynooth Campus, that was the overall winner. This site features not only pollinator friendly planting and gardening, but also makes a great effort to educate the public and to promote these efforts through its website and social media.
“I think that now our public parks are more valued than ever it is time to start appreciating them as investments in the future,” said Robert Moss, Republic of Ireland Green Flag Award manager. “Any funding spent on parks is repaid by them in terms of our quality of life, health, and happiness. They also provide us with the ability to adapt to the unexpected in an increasingly urban environment, and uncertain world”
Moss also noted that the Green Flag Community Award element of the scheme is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development because it “builds a very constructive conduit for information, knowledge and skill share between the professional and voluntary green space management sectors within our society.”
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.