Strategy draft for consultation

Edinburgh’s Thriving Greenspaces 2050: A draft Vision and Strategy for the City of Edinburgh Council’s public greenspaces

This page contains selected highlights in plain text from the draft Vision and Strategy document consulted on from 4 October to 31 December 2022.

A PDF copy of the published draft can be found by clicking on the link here:  Edinburgh's Thriving Greenspaces 2050 - City of Edinburgh Council - Citizen Space 

Happy to translate:

You can get this consultation document on audio CD, in Braille, or on large print if you ask us.

Please contact Interpretation and Translation Service (ITS) on and quote reference number 22-7659. ITS can also give information on community language translations.

The draft strategy in a few sentences:

Our Vision for 2050 is “Greenspaces that are at the heart of our communities and help make Edinburgh an outstanding city for wellbeing, quality of life and heritage.”

The 4 themes of the strategy are: “Greenspaces that are connected, thriving, valued and resourced.”

The consultation document outlines in detail:

  • what this means
  • how it can be bedded in through a phased approach
  • the different elements involved
  • what we think success would look like.

Extracts from the consultation document start below.


A Vision and Strategy for the City of Edinburgh Council’s Greenspaces - October 2022 Draft for consultation. 

Front cover: 

The version with images shows the title page on a photograph of the double border in the walled garden at Saughton Park. It shows an early summer day with multi coloured lupins and alliums in flower in the foreground, a tall border of flowering plants across a broad path, and a view over clipped yew hedging to the historic Saughton bandstand and tall trees beyond the walled garden.  


This strategy document has been produced by the Thriving Green Spaces Project team. The Thriving Green Spaces Project has been made possible through the ‘Future Parks Accelerator’ programme, which is funded and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Trust and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.  

The project has been delivered through a partnership of the City of Edinburgh Council, the Scottish Wildlife Trust, greenspace scotland, the Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust, the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Green Space Forum, the umbrella organisation for Friends of Edinburgh greenspace groups.  

It sets a 2050 Vision for Edinburgh’s greenspaces which reflects the ambitions of the Council, project partners and the citizens of Edinburgh which can only be delivered by all parties working together. This document establishes the Council’s commitment to what it will do to realise that Vision. 

In this document, we refer to space as the outdoor environment in an urban context which is made up of grey, green and blue infrastructure.  

GREY infrastructure covers a range of structures such as roads, pathways, buildings, and utilities above and below ground.  

GREEN infrastructure refers to vegetated land such as parks, gardens, playing fields, allotments and woodlands.  

BLUE infrastructure refers to water bodies such as rivers, lochs, and shorelines. To keep a city thriving and climate resilient in the future there must be an increase of green and blue infrastructures.  

We use the term GREENSPACE to cover both green and blue infrastructure. 

A word from Councillor Val Walker, Culture and Communities Committee Convener (page 3)

(This is followed by a photo of a headshot of Councillor Walker, smiling).

Edinburgh is a wonderful Capital City with unique natural heritage. It is a place where our residents and visitors enjoy and benefit from amazing green and blue spaces. But these spaces are under pressure like never before, faced with the twin challenges of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. At the same time the impact of the COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of having greenspaces in our neighbourhoods, and the contribution they make to our happiness, health and wellbeing.

Although this Council continues to work successfully with partners to protect and develop our greenspaces, there is continuing pressure on the resources that we allocate to them. That is why we need a long-term strategic plan to look across our whole natural estate, with a view to raising additional funds and resources, improving facilities and habitats, and helping these places fulfil their potential in contributing to our lives and to the natural environment in our city.

Responding to these challenges will require a strategic partnership approach across our city, our localities, and our neighbourhoods, where decisions about how improvements are made can be taken together with our communities and partners. This 30-year Vision, and the wide range of outcomes and actions underpinning it, will help deliver the required resources and approach necessary to look after and develop these greenspaces so that people can continue to enjoy them, and communities feel involved in how they are looked after.

I am grateful to Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan in particular for her work in the role of Thriving Greenspaces Champion prior to myself and to all my fellow councillors on the Culture and Communities Committee for their support for the Thriving Green Spaces Project. I would also like to thank the Council’s Parks & Greenspace officers, the Future Parks Accelerator Programme, and our partners for their diligent work over the last three challenging years. I look forward to seeing our greenspaces thrive and our communities strengthen with them.

Contents page:

Postcards from the Future 5

In a Nutshell – the executive summary 6

Strategic context 8

Our amazing greenspaces 10

Why change? 12

Our Vision 15

Connected Greenspaces 16

Thriving Greenspaces 21

Valued Greenspaces 26

Resourced Greenspaces 31

Bedding in 36

Phased Approach 37

What does success look like? 38

The roots for growth 42

Our ambition for Connected Greenspaces - How we will achieve this (Page 20)

*Develop the Edinburgh Nature Network to provide a strategic, holistic approach for prioritising environmental interventions and nature-based solutions to enhance habitats and ecosystem services.

*Use the data provided by the Edinburgh Nature Network and other relevant sources, such as Edinburgh’s Water Vision, to prioritise our resources and target areas in most need of enhancement to maximise benefits for both people and wildlife.

*Move management practices towards a networked whole-estate approach, making connections between existing greenspaces to reduce habitat fragmentation and provide resilience to climate change.

*Assess the biodiversity value of our individual greenspaces and target interventions to improve this by protecting, enhancing and creating new habitat for wildlife.

*Champion and showcase nature-based solutions such as rain gardens, canopy gardens, rewilding ‘grey’ areas, and the production of renewable energy from ground source heat pumps in our parks and greenspaces.

*Work with partners to put the Edinburgh Nature Network at the heart of development in the city, including active travel routes, 20-minute neighbourhoods and other infrastructure.

*Build stronger relationships with Council colleagues and external stakeholders to align priorities, advocate, and work collaboratively to deliver joint outcomes for the whole of the city’s greenspaces.

*Better connect people to nature through promoting and providing opportunities to engage with the natural environment and wildlife.

*Use our greenspaces to generate conversations about climate change and biodiversity loss, engaging and empowering citizens to respond to these challenges.

Our ambition for Thriving Greenspaces - How we will achieve this (Page 25)

*Work with Edinburgh’s Health and Social Care Partnership, the NHS, and relevant third sector organisations to take a more joined-up approach in developing our greenspaces as community hubs and a natural health service.

*Explore the concept of a ‘Green Heart Park’ which encompasses activities, design and facilities that enhance health and wellbeing, and the standards they need to achieve to be recognised as important hubs for these benefits.

*Introduce ways of assessing our greenspaces to enable us to focus investment on improving the provision of health and wellbeing benefits.

*Work with communities and partners to identify and implement initiatives across our greenspace estate that make the most deprived areas a priority for improvement.

*Develop our estate to ensure everyone has access to high quality greenspaces which offer a range of experiences, from tranquil reflective spaces to connect with nature, to social spaces with sports and play opportunities.

*Improve our greenspaces as settings for play and recreation for children and young people, making them more inclusive and creating more playable spaces outside of traditional playground facilities.

*Continue to work with partners to develop opportunities for growing food in our greenspaces and work with partners and our café leaseholders to promote local food growing and healthy eating.

*Make our greenspaces inclusive and welcoming venues for citizens and groups to bring their own ideas and activities into the spaces, targeting those who are not using greenspaces, for whatever reason.

*Introduce inclusive design principles into everything we do, to ensure everyone can enjoy and benefit from our greenspaces.

Our ambition for Valued Greenspaces - How we will achieve this (Page 30)
*Work with communities to identify what is special and unique about greenspaces and adopt a master planning approach guided by design principles and the visitor experience to ensure a consistent approach.

*Introduce robust and comprehensive data collection and associated management protocols to ensure that we have an accurate and up-to-date understanding of our greenspaces and what people need from them to enable us to meet changing requirements.

*Develop an Asset Management Strategy to set priorities and principles to maintain and develop our assets and ensure we have a funded and resourced maintenance and development programme in place.

*Collaborate with partners to develop a Sustainable Venues Protocol and explore the use of Greener Festival Certification, which will help ensure that the Council delivers its 2030 Climate aspiration and events are appropriate to the landscape’s heritage and community needs.

*Introduce new participation and community empowerment principles which promote stronger collaboration and citizenship and ensure that communities have a voice to influence how our greenspaces are managed and developed.

*Develop a Volunteer Strategy and Programme to attract a more diverse range of park and greenspace volunteers and groups, and empower them by providing resources to support positive volunteer experiences.

*Develop our parks as a ‘cause’, telling people more about what the Parks and Greenspace service delivers, what it costs, the need for more funding, and a call to action.

*Develop and deliver a Communication and Marketing Plan which has a recognisable brand and communications which are inclusive.

*Develop and implement an Interpretation Strategy which goes beyond fixed interpretation and uses art, culture, activities and other media so that the cultural and natural heritage of our greenspaces are understood. 

Our ambition for Resourced Greenspaces - How we will achieve this (Page 35)

*Ensure that all greenspace team has the right skills such as business planning, bid writing, data management, community development, communications and marketing, ecology and design, who work in close collaboration with the grounds maintenance, horticulture and arboriculture teams.

*Develop a robust, deliverable and flexible financial model which diversifies our approach to securing funding, and which leads to increased revenue and capital funding required for investment in both our people and our greenspace estate.

*Build in capacity for partnership building and collaboration with partnership agreements to establish expectations, roles and responsibilities. Build stronger advocacy for the investment, protection and enhancement of our greenspaces, working with partners to have a collective voice which is influential and respected across the city and in government in order to educate, build broader support, unlock investment and create a collaborative culture to achieve more.

*Grow a culture of learning and sharing which helps to unlock the power of the collective and support creativity in partnership working.

*Introduce a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess progress and ensure we are meeting outcomes.