Policymakers now recognise public parks as essential elements of natural capital. From improving health, wellbeing and social cohesion to actively cooling cities by up to 0.5 degrees Celsius, they make a substantial positive contribution to today’s biggest policy issues.

On 26th September, the Landscape Institute (LI), in association with the Parks Action Group, West Midlands Parks Forum and The Parks Alliance, held a free, all-day CPD event in Birmingham: Empowering parks for the 21st Century. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) funded the event to help address skills needs for modern-day park and landscape managers, and to make and debate the business case for natural spaces of all scales – from urban parks and green spaces to national parks and designated landscapes.

150 delegates attended from local authorities across the UK, as well as a national and international audience for the live broadcast. Delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The main consensus from the day: while ‘21st Century’ parks are already demonstrating their value, the message needs to travel further. The sector needs high-level political and managerial leadership in communities to establish a clear vision for their parks, broker the partnerships necessary to secure investment, and build capacity to deliver.

The presentations are available below.

Uncovering the new LI Competency Framework – Christina Hirst

The Future of Parks, Creating the world we dream of – Neil McCarthy

The case for parks, making the case for future investment – Sue Morgan

So what has central government ever done for us- Caroline Macdonald

Rethinking Parks Pioneers- Alice Casey

Parks of Today, Taking on the Challenge – Anna Barker

Parks International, Learning from innovations abroad – Dave Solly & Carl McClean

ParkPower, pioneering new approaches to managing and resourcing – Julie Procter

Nurturing skills for 21st Century Parks – Paul O’Brien

Networking Needs – Liz Stuffins & Ian Baggot

Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature, Research into Practice – Nicola Dempsey

How Parks can Empower Communities – Dave Morris

Future Parks Accelerator – Victoria Bradford Keegan & Kathryn Deeney

Creating healthy places, the wellbeing impact of parks – Dr Becca Lovell

Building the business case for parks – Peter Neal

Applying the Natural Capital Approach – Ian Dickie

21st Century Park Management, The Essential Skillset – Paul O’Brien