THE future of 25 parks in the Capital has been secured after a landmark agreement was signed.
The parks, located across Edinburgh, will be protected forever as green spaces following a pact between city environment bosses and the charity Fields in Trust.
As part of the deal, the council has committed to dedicating the sites – which include Portobello Golf Course, Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill – for the purposes of public recreation.
The city council was also named landowner of the year by Fields in Trust after it nominated more sites for protection than any other UK local authority.
Parks campaigner Liz Stewart, of Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, praised the efforts of the city council in protecting parks, but insisted more still needed to be done to secure the Capital’s green legacy.
She said: “We need to make sure that everyone in the city has a good park within walking distance – this agreement is a step in that direction.
“Parks are vital to everybody, we all need them and everyone values them. However, it’s important not just to keep our parks but also look after them.
“To achieve this, we are looking for investment in parks throughout the city and we also want to get local people involved in taking care of their parks.
“There’s always the issue of funding for that. That’s the tough question for everyone and I am always on the look-out for funding to improve parks.”
Ms Stewart added: “There are about 142 parks in Edinburgh, ranging from Princes Street Gardens to hidden pathways and the tiniest greens, and they all need different sorts of help.”
The agreement was signed as part of Fields in Trust’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge, which aims to protect 2012 outdoor recreational spaces as a legacy of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Founded in 1925 as the National Playing Fields Association by King George V, the charity works to ensure everyone has access to free outdoor space.
Colin Rennie, Fields in Trust manager for Scotland, said: “This agreement on the status of Edinburgh’s parks is very significant.
“The parks in question represent a tremendous geographic spread across Edinburgh – nearly everyone in the city will have access to one of these sites.
“There’s always a threat to green space in a city like Edinburgh, where you have development pressure as a result of a growing population, but the council has shown itself to be determined to protect the city’s green spaces.”
Deputy environment leader Jim Orr revealed the city had also won £10,000 as part of its award, which he said could be spent on playpark equipment and a new open-air gym.
Edinburgh’s first outdoor gym opened in Hailes Quarry Park in Wester Hailes earlier this year.
Mr Orr said: “Here in Edinburgh, we have no shortage of beautiful outdoor spaces, and this council recognises the important role they play in boosting the wellbeing of communities.
“I’m delighted that Fields in Trust have recognised our efforts in dedicating many of our green spaces as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
“This will have a lasting legacy for Edinburgh and reaffirms this city’s commitment to protecting our parks and green spaces for future generations.”