Report reveals country parks need a champion

Action needed now to ensure protection of these valuable resources

Country parks are more important than ever, but are at risk of neglect unless action is taken now, according to a new report, titled Towards a Country Parks Renaissance. The Countryside Agency recently commissioned the Urban Parks Forum and the Garden History Society to report on the health of England’s 267 country parks. Around half of the parks returned a questionnaire, answering questions about the physical composition of parks, trends in condition, finance and park users. The report found that “good parks are continuing to improve, while poor parks are continuing to decline”. It also discovered “a consistent and unrelenting decline in the financial resources available to country park managers”. Reporters said country parks need a champion, a system of support, a shared identity and common goals, minimum standards, finance and funding, staff training and support and management plans. It recommended: the inclusion of country parks in council parks and greenspace strategies; development of core activities; minimum quality/service standards and a shared vision; additional marketing and promotional support; and the establishment of a delivery group. Countryside Agency recreation adviser Andrew Maliphant said: “The report is at the mid point of a four-year programme. GreenSpace, helping for the first two years, has been appointed for two more to develop the Country Parks Network and find funding opportunities.”

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