Europe CongressAlbi, France | 5-7 October 2016
Registrations are open for this exciting bilingual congress, which will explore the theme: ‘Green Heritage and Green Infrastructure: Evolution or Social Revolution?’.

The congress is held in partnership with French parks professional association Hortis in the French city of Albi, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Register at the event website and download the updated program, which includes symposium days, tours and site visits, workshops and conferences, pre-congress meetings and ‘master lectures’.

City parks and heritage areas have increasing social, cultural, environmental and economic relevance. Find out how these spaces will evolve to meet the needs of different European populations in the twenty-first century at the Europe Region Congress.

Register now>>

Read more: Register for Europe Region Congress

World Urban Parks CongressWorld Urban Parks media release, 30 September 2016

Leading parks professionals and parks agencies from around the world resolved to protect and enhance the world’s urban parks and green spaces in the face of looming global challenges at this week’s World Urban Parks and IERM Congress in South Africa.

The Congress included over 70 speakers from all corners of the globe.

World Urban Parks CEO Dr Digby Whyte said key issues facing society were addressed, including climate change, and how to mitigate the challenges posed by population growth and increasing urbanisation.

Dr Whyte said this is a challenging time for societies around the world, with the world population expected to grow from 7.5 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and the majority of growth is anticipated in urban areas. Africa is expected to account for more than half of the growth, with the populations of 28 African countries expected to double over this time.

Urban parks play a vital role in overcoming these challenges, and increased awareness of their value from decision makers was “immensely important”, he said.

“Urban parks play a vital role in creating a sense of place and cultural identity. They provide opportunities for sport and recreation, health and well-being, community meeting places, social cohesion, biodiversity, environment and ecosystem services, forms of active transportation such as cycling and walking, and tourism and economic development.”

Read more: World Congress resolutions recognise value of urban parks

Sandrine ManussetSpeaker profile: Sandrine Manusset

At the Europe Region and Hortis Congress in Albi on 6 October, Sandrine Manusset will explore the Sociological approach of green areas in urban planning, taking into consideration biodiversity, health and societal expectations. She says the real difficulty is implementing recommendations for incorporating nature in the city, with today's socio-cultural context rather unfavourable to nature.

Read more: Europe Region and Hortis Congress

Distinguished Individual Award NomniationsWorld Urban Parks encourages and recognises significant contributions made by individuals to the urban parks, open space and recreation sector with this prestigious international award.

The Distinguished Individual Award recognises any organisation or individual associated with the parks, open space and recreation industry. Nominations for 2016 are now open until 22 August 2016. The award will be conferred at the Gala Dinner of the World Urban Parks Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, 27 September 2016. The recipient receives a trophy and Honorary Life Membership of World Urban Parks.

Read more: Distinguished individual award nominations open

Magical Park AppAuckland and Wellington City Councils in New Zealand are piloting a new augmented reality game designed to get ‘tech children’ who are glued to their tablets and iPhones out of the house and into parks with their families.

Magical Park is the world's first digital playground app using augmented reality. It is geo-located in a specific park and so the app will only open in a designated park area. Auckland and Wellington's park sites have signs installed, instructing the visitor to download the app and play in the park.

This provides park managers with an innovative way to use technology to bring digital families to a park. Once outside, the magic of outdoor activity takes hold, and kids end up playing together, using their imagination and getting side-tracked from the game to doing other things.

Read more: Augmented reality games hit New Zealand parks

Melbourne roundtable meetingWorld Urban Parks Chair Gil Penalosa and Vice Chair Neil McCarthy hosted a roundtable of 14 leaders from parks, open space and recreation agencies at Library at The Dock in Melbourne on 1 July. Key topics were the current status of cities as healthy, liveable, sustainable and accessible communities, how to identify key issues and opportunities for Australian park, open space and recreation organisations; and actions World Urban Parks could take to make a difference.
Some of the larger issues discussed by Mr Penalosa were aging populations as an important resource, health crises related to obesity, climate change, population growth and park investment, funding, mobility, and equity of access for children and lower income groups. Mr Penalosa separately addressed staff of World Urban Parks members, Parks Victoria and the City of Melbourne expanding on these discussions.

Read more: World Urban Parks roundtable, Melbourne

Large Urban Parks SurveyWorld Urban Parks is creating a database of large urban parks around the world. This is an opportunity for park managers to register your park online.

The database is the product of the Large Urban Parks Good Practices Working Group, which works to share knowledge about how to handle various tasks and issues among large urban parks stewards, managers, funders, planners, defenders and advocates.

A first step is to create a shared database of Large Urban Parks and to gather basic information about the facilities and financing of these parks. The online questionnaire to register large urban parks in your organisation for inclusion in the database takes about 15 minutes.

It may be helpful to first look at the survey as a PDF before completing it online. The structure is: General Information, Financial Information, Amenities and Facilities in the park. While there is a flexible deadline, it would be good to have contributions for an initial shared database by 31 July 2016.

Dr Digby Whyte, World Urban Parks CEO, Australia

This column provides an update on World Urban Parks member activity over the last month. 

As our organisation commences its second year, we are focusing on online membership renewal and growth, nominations for directors, the preparation of our World and Europe Region Congresses and the working group initiatives of members. 

All members are eligible to nominate potential World Urban Parks directors by sending the Nomination Form to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 15 June 2016. Current appointed directors’ positions end in August 2016. If nominations exceed positions in any director category, elections will be held via an online AGM during the week of 15 August 2016.

Read more: World Urban Parks update

Mark Bowater, Manager Parks, for Auckland Council

Mark Bowater, Manager Parks for Auckland Council in New Zealand, has used Yardstick Benchmarking since 2002. He answers questions about the value and limitations of Yardstick, and how the benchmarking information has been used. Auckland Council serves 1.5 million citizens, and the parks department is responsible for a $4 billion asset portfolio of 50,000 hectares, 4,000 local parks, 224 sports parks, 26 regional parks, the Auckland Botanic Gardens and 52 cemeteries.   

Read more: Yardstick user interview

Laure Frémeaux, SUEZ Consulting

In Albi, Laure Frémeaux will discuss "The Mésange" approach: adapting green areas to people’s expectations; assessing the services provided to inhabitants by urban green areas; and the place and role of green areas in our society. 

The conference should help put into perspective the place and role of green spaces in our society. With the participation of diverse stakeholders (managers, scientists, companies, associations), it provides a composite view of the issues related to the evolution of these areas to meet the needs of people today and tomorrow. Mésange®: what nature for what purpose?

Read more: Europe Region & HORTIS Congress: speaker profile

Urban parks, green infrastructure and urban forestry

The World Urban Parks Applied Research Working Group has invited members who manage or are involved with urban parks, green infrastructure, and urban forestry to complete a short survey on their research and collaboration needs with the scientific community. The survey is available online and should be completed by Monday 13 June 2016. 

Professor Giovanni Sanesi, Chair of the Applied Research Working Group, says survey information will allow the working group and other researchers to respond to research needs and investigate the ways that knowledge can be transferred from one stakeholder group to another, for identifying the relative strengths and weaknesses of the ways they collaborate and interact in practice. Statistical results will be presented at the World Urban Parks Europe Region/Hortis Congress in Albi, France in October and reported to participants.

The World Urban Parks Secretariat farewells Katie McCrae, Senior Administrator, who is returning to the UK. Katie provided financial and membership administration with the new Ifrpa Secretariat in 2013 through its transfer to the present World Urban Parks Secretariat. Recently Katie had transferred much of the administration to Kusum Nathu.

Also joining the Secretariat is Dr Ingrid Sieler, a former project manager for the Australasian Association Parks Forum. Ingrid will serve as Membership Coordinator for the Asia Pacific Region, supporting membership growth through World Urban Parks's early development. 

Read more: Secretariat staff changes