Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair
Gil PenalosaI am very proud to live in Canada, a country with some of the most breathtaking national parks. This year our federal government has announced all national parks will have free admission as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. This is fantastic, but shouldn’t our parks, which are public spaces, always be free?

Similar situations occur in other countries, including the US, where the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary by providing free entrance for 10 days in 2017. Unfortunately, this restriction is not limited to national parks far from the cities. More and more often, it’s becoming a way to fund urban parks.

To erect any barrier to experience the beauty, awe, and amazing nature that a park bestows is in my mind inequitable. It is understandable to charge for services, but not for entry. All citizens must have the right to enjoy a walk, benefiting from the contact with people and nature, everywhere. This provides a sense of belonging beyond the local community, it’s a human right.

Research on visitors to the US and Canadian national parks shows they tend to be disproportionately whiter, older, wealthier and have a higher level of education compared to the general population. People protect what they know and love. If we do not create more accessible experiences for a larger part of our population, this threatens the ongoing protection of our parks.

For those worried about the potential damage increasing numbers of visitors can have on the conservation of the park – that concern is legitimate. This does not mean that we can not limit entry if it puts the park’s conservation at risk, it means that charging a fee shouldn’t be the way to do it.

I recently visited Guadalajara, leading a group of Californian city leaders. Guadalajara used to charge a small fee for entry into many of its city parks. The current Mayor removed that barrier on the first day of the new administration.

Imagine the improvement in the quality of life such a simple policy change can make for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people. Parks are public spaces, which means they belong to all of us. We all should have an equal opportunity to enjoy the mental and physical benefits that visiting any park can provide no matter age, gender, socio-economic status, or ethnic background.

Dr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO
Conference updateOur congress partners have composed excellent programmes this year. Join us at these fantastic events to meet and share knowledge on common issues and good practices, and experience what some advanced cities have to offer.

Through 2017 World Urban Parks is partnering with national associations and local authorities to bring conferences to three world regions. Two of the major conferences we are partnering to deliver are scheduled for next month, and all are open for registration.

The Asia-Pacific Congress and International Greenery, Recreation, Infrastructure and Parks Conference will be held 17-20 July in Singapore, in partnership with the Institute of Parks and Recreation Singapore.

In the Americas, City Parks Alliance's Greater and & Greener conference will be held 29 July to 2 August in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, USA, with World Urban Parks partnering to provide the International Forum Day of the conference on 2 August.

The conference website is also available for the Europe Region Congress at Birkenhead Park, UK on 16-19 October. Registrations for this event are open and the full programme will be updated shortly. At each congress, there will be a region meeting open to all World Urban Parks members, as well as technical tours of the parks programmes of the host cities. World Urban Parks members are presenting at all congresses.

Read more: Welcome to conference season

Smart and Green in KrakowThe Municipality of Krakow, Poland, invited parks leaders from around Europe to the Smart and Green Seminar from 21-22 May. World Urban Parks Vice Chair for Alliances Elisabeth Fournier presented on the future of green space in France, while CEO Dr Digby Whyte presented an overview of global values and planning for parks.

Other presentations focused on topics such as citizen participation in Krakow’s parks, green space in Tbilisi, Georgia; greening streets in Bordeaux, France; living landscapes in Edinburgh, UK; projects using greenery to mitigate climate change in Trondheim, Norway; projects using greenery to mitigate smog in Krakow, initiatives to revitalise green and blue infrastructure in Leipzig, Germany; new park and river developments in Gothenburg, Sweden; reconstruction of a heritage property in Pecs, Hungary; and a project to revitalise the Rakos River in Budapest, Hungary.

Seminar participants toured revitalised parkland and new play areas in Krakow, and the impressive Old Town green belt, ‘the Planty’. The seminar also included technical tours showcasing Krakow's urban heritage and green space. Green space development and management in Krakow is the responsibility of a new Municipal Green Agency that sponsored the seminar to share good practices and the direction the Agency is taking to expand and improve green space with citizen engagement, as a priority identified by Krakow's citizens.

Read more: Smart and Green in Krakow

World Parks Academy Lighting webinarThe next World Parks Academy webinar focuses on park lighting with expert advice from Xyst Senior Consultant Paul Wilson.

Lighting enhances, extends and promotes the use of parks and public places after dark. The way we light our parks can have serious effects on public perception of safety and can cause negative effects on people and the environment.

Join the webinar to find out how lighting can ignite innovation and increase visitation in your parks and open spaces. This webinar also provides credits for World Parks Academy Certified Parks Professional and Certified International Parks Professional continuing education programmes.

Register now>>

East Bay Regional Park DistrictA recent report highlighted the economic benefits of the East Bay Regional Parks District.

The Quantifying our Quality of Life report found the District hosts 25 million visits a year – more than the Athletics, Raiders, Warriors, Giants, 49ers, Earthquakes, and Sharks sports teams combined.

It also provides a range of benefits to residents, businesses, and visitors that totals about $500 million annually (including the values of recreation, healthcare, property values, and other ecosystem services).

The Park District generates nearly $200 million in regional economic activity every year that would not happen without the District. This includes visitor spending and grant-funded capital investments, and the multiplier effects of both.

Visit the East Bay Park District website for more information>>

Extent of invasive species in South AfricaInvasive species across South Africa are being controlled under new legislation.

The Institute of Environment and Recreation Management (IERM) will present an open webinar on 29 June to discuss how the new Invasive Species Regulations, which apply to all local authorities, are being put into practice.

An interactive map presenting invasive species as a percentage of all species has been made available by data mapping company MapAble.

MapAble have provided a key to analysing their invasive species data (see below). If you would like more information on this dataset, please contact Burgert Geldenhuys at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more: Regulating invasive species in South Africa

Asia-Pacific Congress SpeakersOver 40 speakers from 11 different countries will feature at the World Urban Parks Asia-Pacific and International Greenery, Recreation, Infrastructure and Parks Congress.

Held in partnership with the Institute of Parks and Recreation Singapore (IPRS), the conference has attracted a broad range of speakers. Eleven speakers from World Urban Parks will feature at the event, and Congress speakers have a wide range of experience – from city park managers and university researchers to non-government association leaders and commercial sector executives.

Presentation topics range from parks of the future to green cities and buildings, biodiversity and heritage. World Urban Parks members will conduct a master class on parks best practice and management the day before the conference, while IPRS members will conduct all-day technical visits to sites as diverse as the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Sungei Buloh Wetland Park, eco links waterways and Urban farms on the last day.

Singapore's striking architecture can also be experienced at the Marina Bay Sands venue roof garden, the adjacent Gardens by the Bay, and the Henderson Wave Bridge.

 

Register now at the Asia-Pacific Congress Website>>

Read more: Intriguing international presentations at Asia-Pacific Congress

Minneapolis and St. Paul, USA | 29 July - 2 August 2017
Greater & GreenerRegister now, and join more than 1,000 global park leaders exploring the power of parks in supporting healthy, resilient and sustainable cities at Greater & Greener, the two-yearly conference of the City Parks Alliance.

Attendees will learn best practices of urban park design, management and programming, and network with experts in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

World Urban Parks is partnering with CPA to present a day-long International Forum at the event on August 2nd, which is limited to 200 participants. Sessions include 'Healthy Parks Healthy Cities', 'River Revolution Cities', 'Large Parks in Cities' and 'Getting it Right'. There is a great line up of speakers from around the world, including many World Urban Parks members.

The International Forum also provides an important networking opportunity for World Urban Parks members as well as leaders from large cities, national parks services, non-government organisations, and academics. In addition, a post-event technical tour to Chicago is planned for World Urban Parks members.

Special rates apply for World Urban Parks members for full Conference Registration. Full and day registrations also include free attendance at the International Forum for World Urban Parks members.
The topics and broader Greater & Greener Conference are ideal for World Urban Parks members and our commitment to partner for this event is in lieu of a 2017 World and Americas Region Congress.

Visit www.greatergreener.org for the full conference schedule and additional information. To facilitate meeting each other World Urban Parks members are encouraged to book the hotel associated with the venue, the Intercontinental Saint Paul Riverfront

City parks play a vital role in the social, economic, and physical well-being of cities and their residents. Parks are now recognized as powerful and necessary part of 21st century urban systems. As urban populations continue to grow, planners, elected officials, community advocates, and other stakeholders are taking a fresh look at parks and their potential to help address many critical urban issues.

Birkenhead Park, Wirral, UK | 14-19 October
World Urban Parks Europe Region CongressRegistrations are open for the World Urban Parks Europe Region Congress!

Held at Birkenhead Park in partnership with Wirral Council, the congress coincides with the 170th anniversary celebrations of Birkenhead Park.

Pre-congress tours feature on 14-15 October, with the public opening of the Congress Opening Exhibition, trade and floral shows, award presentations and a World Urban Parks meeting on 16 October.

Draft pre-tour itinerary, opening exhibition and event programme documents are currently available, and the full programme will be available on the congress website on 20 June.

Congress presentations feature high-profile speakers from across the globe. Presentations and technical tours will be held from 17-19 October 2017, with optional post-congress technical tours on 20 and 21 October.

Visit the Congress website for the latest registration and accommodation details>>

Lyon, France | 5-7 December 2017
Green City DaysJoin World Urban Parks member Daniel Boulens in Lyon for an amazing triple-header.

The Green City Days conference is themed around working in and landscaping urban parks and gardens.

This conference is presented in conjunction with the world-famous landscape, garden and sport exhibition Paysalia, which will be held at Lyon’s Eurexpo conference centre.

Paysalia is set to feature over 600 exhibitors and host over 18,000 visitors. An added attraction is Lyon’s brilliant Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) which begins on 8 December and is expected to draw more than three million visitors.

Due to visitor numbers, conference delegates are encouraged to book flights and accommodation as soon as possible.

Visit the Paysaylia website to register and for more information>>

Gil Penalosa, World Urban Parks Chair
Gil PenalosaI’d like to take the opportunity this month to highlight Greater & Greener. This fantastic international conference is presented and hosted by one of our partner organisations and a member of World Urban Parks, the City Parks Alliance.

The theme of this year’s conference is Parks Connecting Cities, Cultures, and Generations. It is taking place this year July 29 - August 2 in beautiful Minneapolis and St Paul, twin cities which regularly compete for the title of having the best city parks system in the U.S by the Trust for Public Land (for your information in 2016 Minneapolis edged out St Paul, as number 1 and St. Paul came a close second). To find our more about the conference and to register visit www.greatergreener.org.

What makes these two cities, separated by the magnificent Mississippi river, to have two of the best park systems in the world? I’d encourage you to attend and find out. The conference will include study tours and visits on Saturday and Sunday (29-30 July), conference sessions from city park leaders and practitioners Monday and Tuesday (31 July - 1 August), and a special International Forum hosted and curated in partnership with World Urban Parks on Wednesday (2 August). 

Also thank you to the City Parks Alliance for their commitment to being part of the World Urban Parks network, and providing a platform for the sharing of international best practices in urban park planning, development, and advocacy. We all have so much to learn from each other!

Dr Digby WhyteIt has been exciting to see the amount of activity generated by World Urban Parks members over the last month or so.

Dozens of events featured during World Parks Week, and I have lost count of the amount of Twitter and Facebook support from members and non-members alike. Our world map showed activity from diverse parks, including Disneyland Paris and Kolkata Eco Park in India, with World Urban Parks Japan contributing the most events.

We are redoubling our efforts to champion the world’s parks and connect park professionals around the world. As part of our efforts to help the world’s parks connect, we will shortly feature a directory map of members around the world.

The Board, Executive, four portfolios, three region committees, nine of our ten standing committees, and three congress groups have all met recently to organise activity through 2017. Committees are appointing co-chairs and executive officers to support meetings and activity, along with inviting members and others to stay in touch with committee outcomes and join working groups on initiatives of interest.

We have been re-shaping the website to have a page for each group, and will update the Committee pages based on input. Committees work mainly over the internet, so these are ideal opportunities for individual members and staff of organisation members to become involved.

Registrations are currently open for the Asia-Pacific Congress and the Greater & Greener Conference with its International Forum. Speaking opportunities are still available at the Asia-Pacific Congress and also at the Europe Region Congress in October. These are great opportunities to share knowledge, see best practice, and expand your networks of colleagues face to face. Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have an interest in joining one of our committees, or a question about an upcoming event.

Read more: World Urban Parks update

World Parks Week at Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico CityWorld Parks Week took place from 29 April - 7 May, showcasing amazing events, providing a great opportunity to communicate the importance of the world's parks and encouraging people around the globe to appreciate and enjoy their local parks and green spaces.

A full week of activities at Eco Park, Kolkata included races, contests and much more, detailed in their publication Rewards of Green.

A flower festival bloomed in Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City. Across Japan, over a dozen World Parks Week events featured from Sapporo to Osaka.

The City of Helsinki in Finland provided 5,000 World Parks Week balloons to accompany traditional revelry for Vappu festivities at Kaivopuisto Park. They also encouraged revelers to respect their parks by offering a free movie ticket for every 20 bottles recycled. An estimated 25,700 bottles were recycled in total.

Facebook and Twitter were buzzing as parks organisations from around the world took the opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of parks. Several stories made the headlines – including an opinion piece from British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association CEO Rebecca Tunnacliffe, who called for ‘less screen time, more green time’ in the Vancouver Sun.

Events in Europe included boat tours and guided walks through the National City Park in Stockholm, 25th anniversary celebrations at Disneyland Paris, Nordic walking events at Silesia Park in Poland, historic exhibitions at Farmleigh Park in Dublin, and events across the UK’s parks including Roundhay Park in Leeds and Nene Park in Peterborough.

World Urban Parks thanks all the organisations and individuals who participated in the inaugural World Parks Week.

View the World Parks Week map to explore the week’s events>>

Read more: Inaugural World Parks Week celebrated

OrvietoWorld Urban Parks partnered with the European Commission at Orvieto, Italy for the Green Infrastructure: Nature Based Solutions for Sustainable and Resilient Cities Conference, which ran from 4-7 April.

Hosted by COST, the main conference involved three days and 12 parallel sessions (each with about six speakers) focussed on linking environmental and social aspects for planning and managing urban forests and ecosystem services to make future cities more resilient and sustainable. 

The sessions included green infrastructure for climate regulation and climate change resilience, health focused green infrastructure enabling healthy and active lives, new governance and funding models for green infrastructure, the economic impact of green infrastructure for resilient and sustainable cities, and the role of green infrastructure in future urban planning. Poster sessions also featured at the event.

World Urban Parks Europe Region Chair Dr Anna Steidle was a keynote presenter, and several members attended. Pictured below is Dr Anna Steidle, Elisabeth Fournier (World Urban Parks Vice Chair for Alliances), Prof. Giovanni Sanesi, Daniel Boulens, Dr Mardie Townsend and others at a research group meeting. 

Read more: Partnerships forged at Orvieto

Amanda O'Rourke, Co-Chair of World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee

Putting play back on the agendaIn March of this year, 52 experts in urban planning, childhood development, conservation, health, and environmental policy from around the world gathered in Salzburg for the Parks for the Planet Forum session entitled The Child in the City: Health, Parks, and Play.

The purpose of the forum, convened by Salzburg Global Seminar and IUCN, was to propose a new agenda to prioritise children’s needs for nature and play for their optimal health and development. 

I was fortunate sit in the rooms of the Schloss Leopoldskron with this diverse group of passionate and knowledgeable international leaders. World Urban Parks was a partner on this important event, and as the Co-Chair of the World Urban Parks Children, Play and Nature Committee, this topic was of obvious interest. 

Read more: Seminar puts play back on the agenda