Wales, Margam Park, Neath Port Talbot Council

Mature landscapes, architecture and heritage define more than 250ha of parkland in South Wales, offering visitors coarse fishing, walks and views of an 18th-century orangery, picturesque Tudor/Gothic-style Victorian mansion house, ornamental gardens and deer.

This quintessential country park is one of the most accessible in South Wales. The landscape, next to a large steel works and other heavily industrialised areas, is near the M4 and functions as a badly needed social and health resource.

The park hosts a range of events throughout the year and crowds are drawn in to enjoy its narrow-gauge railway, children's adventure playground, farm trail with pets' corner and a Fairytale Land amusement.

The upkeep of the park is mostly undertaken by horticulturists and rangers from Neath Port Talbot Council, says Natural Resources Wales senior communities and partnerships officer Luke Maggs. They were keen to promote the quality and importance of the park.

"We wanted to see what we could use as an independent accreditation system and a national benchmark standard," says Maggs. "Most people have heard of ISOs, but the management standard doesn't say too much to the public.

"The Green Flag Award, however, is growing in stature and the flag for this park will go even further to raise awareness of the award and the high standards achieved.

"The region has enjoyed £20m of European funding to improve green infrastructure across post-industrial coalfield areas. Margam did not receive that funding but is one of the best sites and boasts facilities second to none. That says an awful lot about the standard of care it receives and just how much it is valued by people from an area that has seen big social and economic change in recent decades."

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