Green Flag Award
How can park certifications help to create better green spaces for all? This week on Podparks, we are exploring the growing niche of park awards and certifications, what they even mean, how they work, and what their implications are for parks pursuing them around the world.
Park standards and certifications allow parks to maintain a certain level of quality and ensure that different aspects of park experiences are taken into account in strategic investments and management plans.
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We chat with Carl McClean, International Development Manager for the Green Flag Award, the biggest park certification in the world. The award was born from concerns of park decay across the UK, and became the standard for good management practices in British parks.
It soon spread across the country, and for the past 15 years has been transformed into a global certification, with over 2400 parks and green spaces accredited in 17 countries.
Peter Verdyck, Director of the Provincial Parks of the Antwerp Region in Belgium, discusses the process his team undertook to achieve the Green Flag Award for Rivierenhoff, one of the oldest parks in Antwerp and the first Belgian park to become GLF-certified.
The process is arduous, as park managers must submit a management plan and have an expert judging panel assess their plans and the actual conditions of the park, all of this year after year. But as Carl and Peter point out, this extra work allows park managers to redirect their efforts into social, sustainability and equity aspects of park management.
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Itziar de Luisa, President of the Santa Fe neighborhood association and responsible for the operation of parque La Mexicana in Mexico City, explains how obtaining the award has allowed the management team of La Mexicana to to steer their work towards building a park for everyone while having a standard to leverage to city officials.
This echoes the thoughts of Michael Boland, Chief Park Officer at Presidio Trust and manager of the Presidio Park, the first U.S. park to be GLF-Certified. As Michael and Carl mention, the award is a great tool to recognize the efforts of park management teams that create the magical spaces we so deeply enjoy.