A RECORD number of parks have been given a special award to recognise the quality of their environment.
A total of 59 parks across the country have been honoured with a Green Flag this year.
The award scheme, which is administered by the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, judges green spaces on a number of different criteria.
For the first time parks in Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling and North Lanarkshire have been given a Green Flag, while parks in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Fife, Midlothian and west-central Scotland maintained their status.
Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “Scotland’s green spaces are going from strength to strength, with more parks flying the Green Flag than ever before.
“This is a reflection of how determined an increasing number of local authorities and park managers now are to make their parks the highest quality green spaces they can be.
“We’re very proud of all of our award winners, and particularly of the army of local volunteers who work all year round in rain or shine to make Scottish parks beautiful.
“Scotland has a wealth of parks and open spaces, vital to the physical and emotional well-being of our local communities.
“The Green Flag Award helps to provide a framework for partnerships between communities, local authorities, land managers and businesses to develop to manage our parks and open spaces in a more sustainable way.
“All over Scotland people are caring for their towns, cities and green spaces. Whether it’s through Green Flag or our other programmes such as Clean Up Scotland and Beautiful Scotland, local people are raising the bar and making their communities great places to live in.”
When handing out the awards, judges consider if parks are welcoming, healthy, safe and secure, clean and well maintained, and sustainable, as well as issues around conservation and heritage, community involvement, marketing and management.
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Our 59 Green Flag parks are to be heartily congratulated on their achievement in meeting this important quality benchmark.
“Thanks to all the managers, staff and many volunteers who have contributed to making Scotland a fantastic place to live.
“It’s great to see that the number of Green Flag Awards in Scotland is increasing each year. The award-winners are also setting an example which I hope many others will follow.
“The availability of high quality greenspace and parks is very important for the health and well-being of the people of Scotland. Long may these commendable efforts continue.”