17 September 2020
International Accreditation for Park Excellence in Ireland has jumped again this year, during a season which has seen massive park visitor increases everywhere. Ireland notably achieves a huge increase in urban park Green Flag Award accreditations in particular across the cities of Dublin, Galway, and Waterford alongside first time applications from the counties of Cavan, Donegal, and Waterford.
A record breaking 84 Irish parks and gardens from across the Republic of Ireland received their 2020-21 Green Flag Awards - keeping Ireland in the top spot as having more Awards than any other country outside the UK, where the scheme originated in 1996.
This year's announcements also saw the further expansion of the scheme to include new types of public green spaces. In Waterford - the country's first Greenway was accredited, and in Cavan a UNESCO Global Geopark become a Green Flag Award site for the very first time.
Only awarded for achieving good environmental standards in green space management, and quality of visitor attractions – the Green Flag Award is the mark of a quality park or green space and is recognised throughout the world.
The 2020 awards were open to applications from public town parks, country parks, gardens, cemeteries, nature parks and green spaces from across the whole of Ireland. And internationally, the number of parks in several countries has also grown. As well as Ireland, the program is delivered in 15 countries worldwide, including; Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
This year has also seen the number of Green Flag Community Award sites in Ireland more than double from last year to 14. Additional community run parks and gardens were accredited in Counties Carlow, Donegal, Fingal - North County Dublin, Kildare, Galway, Roscommon, and Wexford. All of these fantastic amenities maintained by community groups are being acknowledged for the excellence of their volunteer run community green spaces.
The Green Flag Community Award accreditation 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 co-ordination of the Green Flag Community Award Scheme is made possible by the support of the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Minister of State for Community Development and Charities; Joe O’Brien said:
“This year we have appreciated the importance of the public parks and gardens within our communities probably more than at any other time. They have supported us all in maintaining a significant quality of life during restrictions, uncertainty, and upset. Without our public parks and gardens our lives would have been much further reduced and confined.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the hard work put in by park staff, and community volunteers, across the country. Not only in achieving this Green Flag Success for Ireland today, but in maintaining the many parks, gardens, and greens across the country for our mutual benefit. It is a great credit that they largely remained open and well managed at this difficult time.”
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 key criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, and community involvement.
Green Flag Award Ireland 2020 video
The Minister also contributed a message regarding the importance of the Green Flag Award at a flag raising ceremony held at Green Flag Award winning Ardgillan Castle - which also happens to be his local green space!
An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland manage the program in Ireland as part of their highly successful Environmental Education Unit.
Robert Moss; Manager of the Green Flag Award program in Ireland for An taisce said:
“I think that now our public parks are more valued than ever it is time to start appreciating them as investments in the future. 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” said Robert Moss, the Green Flag Award for Parks Manager for the Republic of Ireland.
Robert 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”.
Four of the 2020 Green Flag Award winning parks in Republic of Ireland were also identified by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for an additional Pollinator Project Award. This award is specifically for those Green Flag Award 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.
To find out more, or apply for an Award, whichever country you are based in; please feel free to explore our website and get in touch.
If you know of a park or a country not yet involved in the Green Flag Award that might be interested, get in touch with the Green Flag Award team: [email protected]