Green Flag Award – a new initiative supports environmental policy, wetlands & biodiversity in Irish parks

Published by David Hayden on

Image: Naoise Culhane Green Flag for Parks Award Ireland Facebook page

Left: Minister of State for the OPW and Flood Relief,Sean Canney TD; and  Right: Michael John O’Mahony, Director of An Taisce Environmental Unit

2 February, 2017

An Taisce recently held an open day for winners and new entrants to their Green Flags scheme on Tuesday, January 17th in their environmental education unit, Swift Alley, Dublin 8. Robert Moss coordinator of An Taisce’s Green Communities programme manages the Green Flag awards in Ireland. The scheme was set up as a pilot in 2015 and the number of awards has nearly quadrupled since. The impetus of the award is to bring best practice to parks & green spaces both in terms of environmental management such as introducing wetlands, biodiversity zones and wildflower meadows as well as general safety, signage and cleanliness.

The Green Flags awards originated in England in the 1990’s after decades of underfunding left many of the country’s parks derelict and dangerous. Experts with a shared interest in natural spaces came together in response to this decline. Their intention was to establish agreed standards of good management to restore the parks to a high standard for the public.Robert Moss expects the number of participating parks to grow in the coming years as media attention and public interest drive broader participation.

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” href=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Click here to see Green Flag for Parks Award Ireland page on Facebook [/x_button]

Robert Moss emphasized that the judging criteria for the Green Flag award involves park managers receiving training on environmental issues and sustainable maintenance practices.

As a result of participation in the Green Flag awards numerous parks have developed written management policies reflecting best practice including environmental policy to promote biodiversity, reduce grass cutting, introduce recycling and composting as well as wildflower meadows and a whole array of other ecological initiatives that are a testament to the hard word of the grounds staff and park management.

Blending ecological initiatives with practical concerns of park management is one of the hallmarks of the Green Flag Award scheme. Take a look at the impressive results in the Poppintree Park case-study below.

Robert Moss, says that the scheme can also be expanded to include other green spaces such as allotments and community gardens as well as graveyards or even greenways. Community green spaces are often less well resourced than formal parks but very much deserving of recognition and could derive real benefit from the scheme.

Only parks that provide free access to the public are eligible for the programme, so the scheme contributes directly to raising the standards of public service for the nations parks and green spaces. Furthermore, as Robert Moss explains, the parks are obliged to reapply each year, ensuring that their offering is kept current with the lastest standards.

Poppintree Park Ballymun – A Case Study in balancing the Eco-friendly with the People-friendly

Poppintree Park is a regional park of approximately 45 acres, shared by the communities of Glasnevin, Ballymun and Finglas. Poppintree Park has undergone considerable improvement works since 2008. The design of the park is the result of extensive public consultation.

Features of the new Poppintree Park:

  • Tree Trail detailing 15 species of native trees for adults and younger people to enjoy and learn
  • Feature pond
  • Wetlands and wildlife area
  • Amphitheatre for events
  • Playground for 0-12 year olds
  • Playing pitches:3 soccer, 1 GAA, 1 seven-a-side
  • Parkland walks
  • Fully accessible for people with disabilities
  • Extensive seating
  • 5 new entrance gates have been provided, at Barnewall Drive, Belclare Crescent, Belclare Drive, Cedarwood Green and Willow Park Road
  • CCTV cameras with 24-hour surveillance

The ecological is blended seamlessly with the practical in the planning of Poppintree Park, Green Flag award winner. The park hosts the first native-Irish tree-trail trail in a North-Dublin park. Dublin City Council encourages visitors to explore the native wildlife with a map that guides visitors to see all fifteen varieties of native trees.

[x_button shape=”square” size=”regular” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Poppintree Native Tree Trail document from Dublin City Council[/x_button]

[x_image type=”none” float=”none” src=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]

Poppintree Park Ecological and Biodiversity elements

[x_columnize][x_image type=”none” float=”none” src=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Image: Wildflowers grow on poor-quality raised soil in Poppintree Park Credit: Robert Moss

[x_image type=”none” float=”none” src=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”]Image: SUDS Sustainable Drainage System is an intelligent landscaping design that reduces flood risk which providing valuable urban wetland habitat Credit: Robert Moss

[x_image type=”none” float=”none” src=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”] Image: Sunken areas near the playground are left wild to foster biodiversity, dead tree trunks provide shelter and habitat for wildlife Credit: Robert Moss

[x_image type=”none” float=”none” src=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover”] Image: Poppintree Park aerial view Credit: David Andrews[/x_columnize]



[x_columnize]22 parks across Ireland were awarded a Green Flag for the 2016/2017 season:

– Bushy Park; the Markievicz Park; Poppintree Park; St Anne’s Park; and Blessington St Park – managed by Dublin City Council.

– Cabinteely Park; and People’s Park, Dún Laoghaire – managed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

– Ardgillan Demense; Malahide Demense; Millennium Park; and St Catherine’s Park – managed by Fingal County Council.

– Pairc an Phobail, Portlaoise – managed by Laois County Council.

– The Mall Park, Longford – managed by Longford County Council.

– Blackrock Community Park – managed by Louth County Council. – Turlough Park – managed by Mayo County Council.

– Lloyd Town Park, Tullamore – managed by Offaly County Council.

– Mullingar Town Park – managed by Westmeath County Council.

– Gorey Town Park and Showgrounds – managed by Wexford County Council.

– St Stephen’s Green; Grangegorman Military Cemetery; the National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin; Derrynane Historic Park, Co Kerry – managed by the Office of Public Works.[/x_columnize]

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David Hayden

David is a contributor to the Green News. He has a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and French from UCD as well as a Master's Degrees in French literature and New Media from the University of California at San Diego and the Johns Hopkins University.