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Celebrating Scotland’s best managed green and blue spaces

A blog post by Catherine Gee

Scotland is beautiful. We have majestic mountains, castles and lochs. We have beautiful beaches and brilliant urban and rural green spaces right across the country. And, we have communities and local authorities in cities, towns and villages seeking to enhance and improve the places they live. 

We all have our favourite space – a hidden gem, or a tourist hotspot.  

Something that they often all have in common is excellent management – across the country there are teams of people working to minimise the impact of our presence on the natural environment and animals and plants that call these spots their home.  

Often good management goes unnoticed. But, Keep Scotland Beautiful has recognised the best managed beaches and parks through two award schemes for almost three decades. This year it seems so much more important to celebrate these spaces and the people – employees and volunteers - who work so hard to keep them so beautiful for us all to enjoy.  

Our research has shown that in the last year, over 40% of people have spent more time using outside space in their neighbourhoods, reconnecting with their local environment and communities – many of these spaces, our local parks and beaches provided us with a lifeline at times of lockdown.  

We know from those people managing such places that the increase in users has put pressure like never before on them. Our recent litter surveys have once again highlighted that where there are people in large numbers, there are unacceptable levels of litter tipping us closer towards a litter emergency. In fact, 9 in 10 people agree litter is a problem across Scotland. 

Yet, despite this, community groups, local authorities, hospitals, and university grounds teams have committed to managing their green spaces. This month 77 sites received a Green Flag Award – an international benchmark which celebrates well maintained green spaces and parks – so important for our mental and physical wellbeing.  

And back in June, we presented 52 beaches – from Shetland to the Scottish Borders - with Scotland’s Beach Award. This national benchmark celebrates clean, well-managed and sustainable beaches – so important when we know from consumer research that now, more than ever, visitors are being drawn to our coastline to improve their wellbeing, many taking up wild swimming and paddle boarding. 

It’s thanks to the incredible work of those local authorities, charities and communities that we are able to experience these clean beaches and parks across Scotland.  

In neighbourhoods across Scotland there are hundreds more parks, beaches, streets and urban spaces, all treasured by people who live there and visit them. Spaces that we connect with, where the heritage resonates with us, and that might need protecting, enhancing and celebrating. 

If you know of such a space, why not think about getting involved to maintain and develop it or consider applying for an award. We are here to support you every step of the way, connecting you to others on the same journey.   

Join us in keeping Scotland beautiful and celebrate those working tirelessly to do so. 

First published in the Scotsman on 11 November 2021.

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