A reception at the Scottish Parliament last night focused on the need to protect more of Edinburgh's green spaces for good and asked local businesses and communities across the capital to get involved to help this happen.
Fields in Trust are working with The City of Edinburgh Council to bring their ambition to life and ensure that nearly everyone in the capital has a legally protected green space close to where they live. The Council already protects 36 parks across the city and have committed to securing another 19 parks, meaning that 84% of the city's residents will be within a ten-minute walk of a permanently protected green space.
The reception last night, hosted by Lothian region MSP Sarah Boyack, was an opportunity for all those attending to hear stories about the impact the city's green spaces have on Edinburgh's communities and to call on others to get involved and help protect the city's green spaces for generations to come.
A new series of case studies called 'Memories are made in our parks' and commissioned by Fields in Trust show residents telling stories based on the memories that the city's parks hold for them and explaining why these parks being permanently protected green spaces is so important.
Of the nineteen additional green spaces being protected, ten will initially be protected, followed by a further nine to complete the partnership. Legal work on the agreements to protect the first ten, which include Inch Park, Gyle Park and Spylaw Park, is underway and Fields in Trust now needs the support Edinburgh's local communities to help achieve this charitable work.
"I talk to people that are in their seventies and eighties and can remember sitting in the park when they were students. I hope future generations will continue to use it and enjoy it."
Memories are made in our parks. Help us protect them.
Speaking at the Parliamentary event, Sarah Boyack MSP for Lothian, said: "Green spaces are vital for our mental and physical wellbeing. They offer a break from our sedentary lives and a chance to enjoy our natural environment.
"Green spaces are breathing spaces and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of the area they live, their income or background. That's why I'm proud to host the Fields in Trust reception at the Scottish Parliament.
"Their campaign is inspiring - the pandemic has shown that green spaces have become increasingly important for people of all ages, whether for leisure or community gardening. We need action so that everyone can benefit from parks, gardens and green spaces across Scotland."
Culture and Communities Convener at The City of Edinburgh Council, Cllr Val Walker, added: "Edinburgh is already a wonderfully green city and we want to ensure it remains that way for generations to come.
"Through our partnership with Fields in Trust we will make sure that almost everyone in Edinburgh will be within a ten-minute walk of a protected green space, ensuring that for years to come citizens are guaranteed a lifetime of opportunity for activity, play, learning, recuperation and community. We hope other cities follow suit."
The event heard from all those involved in the partnership including community beneficiaries.
Fields in Trust Chief Executive with Cllr Cammy Day, Leader of Edinburgh Council, and Sarah Boyack, MSP for Lothian (l-r)
Stuart Gibson and Max Ponton give Fields in Trust Scotland Chair, Ewan GIllies, a skateboarding demo.
Members of Friends groups from across the city who will benefit from green spaces being protected.
Guests at the event also heard from Max Ponton and Stuart Gibson, who have many years of fond memories skateboarding in Saughton Park and discussed the importance of the park being there for them and future generations. Stuart said: "Parks provide a place that connect people from all walks of life and offer them a community-oriented space... I'd ask that we all remember what these spaces mean to us and protect them accordingly."
Prior to the event, Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland about the partnership and what it means for residents in the city. You can listen back to the conversation below.
Meanwhile, Chair of the Fields in Trust Scotland Committee, Ewan Gillies, issued a rallying call to other local authorities across Scotland to follow the lead set by The City of Edinburgh Council and protect their green spaces for good. Speaking last night, Ewan said: "For almost 100 years Fields in Trust have been protecting places like Saughton Park as well used outdoor community social centres. We all know that green space can play a vital role in people's health and wellbeing. That's why we're proud to protect over 300 spaces across the whole of Scotland - from the King George Play Park in the most northernly town in Scotland Lerwick, Shetland, to Lady Stair Park in Dumfries and Galloway."
If you are a business or resident of Edinburgh then we need your help to bring this life-changing commitment into reality. This is your opportunity to leave a legacy that will make a difference for generations to come.