Julie Proctor: Why our parks matter

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Take a stroll through Edinburgh’s parks and every day you can see people enjoying our city’s green spaces. In Scotland, we make an estimated 162 million visits to our parks and green space each year – that’s five times more than the number of visits to mountains and hills.

Our parks really matter because they aren’t just the spaces where the kids kick a ball around or where your neighbour walks the dog – they make a big difference to our quality of life.

Green space is nature’s anti-depressant – just viewing a green space for three to five minutes can significantly reduce stress. When we’re not relaxing in our parks, they can also help us to get fit and active. And what better place for children to run around and play? Many of us have treasured childhood memories of playing in the park – feeding the ducks, playing hide and seek, whizzing down the slide – and we see our children and grandchildren enjoying these same simple pleasures.

That’s why at greenspace scotland we think it’s important that everyone has easy access to a quality park or green space. Here in Edinburgh there’s an impressive 140 parks – wherever you are in the city there’s a park not far away. Many of those parks have received Green Flag Awards in recognition of their quality.

Across the city more than 40 Park Friends groups are working in partnership with the council to cherish and nurture their local park.

But we must never take our parks for granted. The recent Heritage Lottery Fund ‘State of UK Parks’ report sounded a warning bell. This first UK-wide survey of parks warned that whilst many of our parks are in excellent condition, unless future funding for park management and maintenance is sustained, our parks are at risk of rapid decline.

Our parks are too important to risk. That’s why we’re teaming up with the councils and Park Friends groups in Edinburgh and Glasgow to develop MyParkScotland. Over the next few months we’ll be creating an online hub to provide up-to-date information about what’s happening in your local park and a place where groups can post details of park projects they are looking to fund and where people will be able to donate time or money.

If you’ve got ten minutes to spare we would love to hear about how you use parks and your views about the project. Follow the survey link from www.greenspacescotland.org.uk.

Julie Procter is chief executive of Greenspace Scotland