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Park Life

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Posted: Thursday 24th August 2017 by WildBlog

By Sarah Moore, Director of Communications

The conversation about the future for Bristol’s parks continues to prompt opinion from across the city. People know their parks and local green places provide significant value for wildlife, for people’s physical and mental health, and for the benefits to the urban environment – cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and sponges for rain.

Even the Mayor, Marvin Rees, agrees nature is key for a prosperous and happy future for our city. Yet finding the funds to care for our parks is still a huge challenge. At Avon Wildlife Trust we know how important good quality access to nature is, especially in the urban landscape. For city dwellers, the opportunity to connect to nature and experience a thriving natural world can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Let alone the benefits for mind and soul gained from spotting a soaring peregrine falcon or a tiny, long-nosed shrew. A recent report commissioned by Jordans, highlighted that one in seven Brits hadn’t left the City for over two years! Good quality parks keep a connection with the natural world alive in the city. The future is urban, and it has never been more important to protect our public green places.

The price tag attached to keeping our parks clean and safe might seem like as a luxury alongside other, more seemingly urgent issues. But the long term damage to community cohesion and the health of our wildlife from not finding the funding is far more costly. Without our parks we lack places to exercise, relax, learn, play, connect, notice animals, birds, insects, the seasons, share food, party, kiss our sweetheart, get some head-space, un-plug…

The budget cuts the Council is facing are significant. And while at Avon Wildlife Trust, we believe there will always be a need for the Council to empty the bins, keep dog mess at bay and do the large-scale maintenance, we think there is a role for Bristol residents to play to protect the future of our parks and green spaces too. 

In almost every corner of our green city there is a park, or local wildlife site, that needs your help. Fabulous groups of committed individuals get together to give a few hours each month to look after these places. Often called ‘Friends Groups’, you can find these generous people involved in a wide array of activity – step-building, coppicing woodlands, keeping brambles and other shrubs in check, foraging wild food, star gazing, and bringing families together to celebrate and notice the diverse trees, plants and creatures. 

Friends groups are always in need of more hands. Friends groups cannot and should not take the place of the Council. But they can and do play an important role in caring about our parks, connecting local people to the wonder of nature, and encouraging local wildlife to thrive. 

Our parks have never needed a louder voice, or more pairs of hands. To find out about the friends group nearest you visit: http://www.bristolparksforum.org.uk/

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