Our green spaces can play a vital role in securing a better future for people and planet - Lorna Slater
We have lots to choose from, but it’s not just the number of parks that makes our city so special. It’s also the quality of them. How many other cities can claim to have anything as iconic and memorable as Holyrood Park situated right in the middle of a bustling urban centre?
That is why I was delighted that Keep Scotland Beautiful gave the International Green Flag award to 38 green spaces across the city. The award goes to the best publicly accessible parks and open spaces, with Edinburgh topping the city ranking.
It’s a notable achievement and a testament to the work of the many volunteers, workers and organisations who put so much time and work into preserving, protecting, and cultivating these spaces.
I know the benefit that our parks have on my physical and mental health, and that they have a similar benefit for so many others. This was made even clearer during the Covid pandemic, when being able to escape to nature became such a vital part of our lives.
Greener cities are happier cities. They are better cities. There are so many children who grow up in cities who do not get to experience nature first hand. While we are fortunate in Edinburgh, I want every child to have the opportunity to experience the natural world around them.
By investing in and expanding our parks and urban green spaces, we are doing vital work to rewild our communities and repair our relationship with the natural world.
Creating and maintaining green spaces that are welcoming, relaxing, and easily accessible is not only one of the best ways to encourage people around Scotland to reconnect with the nature around us, but is a practical and tangible way to tackle our biodiversity crisis. Trees, flowering plants, insects, birds and mammals can all thrive alongside people in our parks.
This is why I have found that one of the most exciting parts of my role as a minister is to oversee the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund.
This £65 million fund was launched in the wake of the COP26 climate conference and has already supported incredible work and funded vital projects all across the country. It has allowed us to heal and recover the biodiversity we have lost, while supporting the introduction of urban wilderness in cities like Edinburgh.
In the Green movement we talk about the need to think global and act local. I want Edinburgh to be a showcase of how, by expanding and nurturing our local parks and green spaces, we can create a fairer, greener and happier city.
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity