Strategy draft for consultation

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

This web page contains selected plain text from the draft strategy. Further plain text is being added over time.

A PDF version of the full document can be viewed or downloaded from the Council consultation hub at the following link. 

We welcome your say on the draft strategy, using the consultation hub. You can also give us your views at . Consultation runs until 31 December 2022. We plan for the draft strategy to then be considered by the Culture and Communities Committee in early 2023.

Happy to translate:

You can get this consultation document on audio CD, in Braille, 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.


Front cover: 

The version of this document 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, long, border of colour flowering plants on the other side of a very broad walkway, 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:

The version of this document with images shows an official headshot photograph of Councillor Val 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 havinggreenspaces 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:

A PDF version of the full document can be viewed or downloaded from the Council consultation hub at the following link. 

The contents page follows. Further plain text from the draft strategy document will be added shortly.

Postcards from the Future page 5

In a Nutshell – the executive summary page 6

Strategic context page 8

Our amazing greenspaces page 10

Why change? page 12

Our Vision page 15

Connected Greenspaces page 16

Thriving Greenspaces page 21

Valued Greenspaces page 26

Resourced Greenspaces page 31

Bedding in page 36

Phased Approach page 37

What does success look like? page 38

The roots for growth page 42

In a nutshell: the executive summary

Coloured illustration in the version of the draft strategy with images: a woman in winter clothing with a scarf and hat, walking away from the viewer, and holding the hand of a small child also in winter clothing and a hat who is walking in front of her.

This Strategy sets out a 2050 Vision for Edinburgh’s greenspaces. It reflects the ambitions of the Council, project partners and the citizens of Edinburgh and establishes the Council’s commitment to what it will do to realise the Vision. It is an ambitious 30-year Strategy that proposes new ways of working to ensure the on-going enhancement, protection, and care of our greenspaces. Our aim is to establish a sustainable funding model that enables us to resource an outstanding greenspace service which can deliver on many of the capital’s aspirations for placemaking, health, sustainability, and biodiversity.

The Strategy is the output of the Thriving Green Spaces project, and was made possible by the ‘Future Parks Accelerator’ programme which was funded and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Trust and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This has given us the capacity to work with partners and a wide range of stakeholders to explore new ways of working together that will allow our greenspaces to grow, thrive and adapt over the next three decades. The project also provided an opportunity to develop solutions unique to Edinburgh and share our learning with a national audience.

Taking a whole-estate, strategic approach was always our ambition. The importance of this became even more evident as we worked on the project. The need for a holistic, informed and evidence-based approach is key to the transformative change we wish to see, enabling us to manage and develop our greenspaces in the most effective and impactful way. We sometimes talk about the competing demands on our greenspaces, and it is true to say that there are significant pressures facing them. However, we wish to put the focus on our greenspaces as major assets, providing multiple benefits for society and nature, and solutions to many of the challenges facing towns and cities today.

Our greenspaces are multi-functional – havens for wildlife, playgrounds for our children and a resource for all of us to enjoy the many benefits that they provide. If managed and developed in the right way, the services that our greenspaces provide should be complementary. Many of the new approaches and tools that we have developed and tested during the Thriving Green Spaces project will enable us to manage and develop our greenspaces in such a way.

Our Strategy has been strongly influenced by local, national and international goals. It has been designed to link coherently with other Council policies and strategies and to deliver against the Council Business Plan priorities. As such, it will help Edinburgh become a fair, welcoming, pioneering, and thriving city, as expressed by the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision.

The ambitions we have for our greenspaces cannot be met by the Council on its own. We are committed to working with citizens, volunteers and our public, private, and third sector organisation partners across the city to deliver the outcomes and goals we all share, and which can only be achieved when we work together. While this Strategy primarily concerns Council assets and services, we are conscious of the need for a citywide approach. We believe that this Strategy will equip our service with the skills and resources to play a leading role in a citywide approach that will enable our green city to really thrive.

In the following pages we summarise the relevant context and challenges. We set out the vision and four themes, with associated ambitions and actions. A separate suite of supporting documents will provide more detail of our research and how we have begun to make things happen and will be accompanied by a 10-year implementation plan which will set the foundation for continued and accelerated growth as we head toward 2050.

Coloured illustration in the version of the draft strategy with images: 

In a box, the heading Edinburgh's Thriving Greenspaces 2050 Vision and Themes.

Each of the following themes appears in four interlocking petal shapes:





The vision and and themes stated as a whole are

Greenspaces that are at the heart of our communities and help make Edinburgh an outstanding city for wellbeing, quality of life and heritage.

Greenspaces that are connected, thriving, valued and resourced.

From page 37 of the draft, a diagram with all the following elements:

Strategy Implementation

Phased Approach - Build capacity internally and develop flagship projects before we can accelerate.


People focussed - We put people first, every time.

Collaboration - We break down silos and adopt a co-production approach. 

Transparent - We have honest and open dialogue.

Holistic - We consider the bigger picture and how things link together.

Creative - We find innovative ways of doing things and dealing with difficult situations.

Frontier - We push back boundaries, embrace change and move towards the future.

Approach to strategy implementation:

Years 1-3: Investing in readiness;

Launch strategy

Get team in place

Citywide partnership building

Process development

Procedure development

Technology in place

Comms & marketing started

Data gathering.

Years 1-5: Flagship projects and building scale;

Business case development

Continue existing projects delivery

New flagship projects delivery

Build volunteer capacity

Acceleration planning

Monitoring & evaluation

Build evidence base.

Year 5 onwards: Acceleration of strategy implementation;

Roll out at scale

Build income generation

Monitoring & evaluation

Rolling asset management programme.

Enablers of strategy implementation:

Staff with skills and capacity

Community participation

Partnership collaboration

Good quality data

Research and analysis

Portfolio wide plans

Funding model and financial plan

Diversify ways of generating income

10 year financial plan.

What does success look like?

Outcomes for the 'Connected' greenspaces theme:

Habitats are better connected, enabling wildlife to be more resilient to climate change.

More of our greenspaces are providing multiple benefits for the city, such as reducing air pollution, mitigating flooding, increasing pollination and improving health and wellbeing.

Citizens are more connected to nature and are inspired to take action to improve their homes, gardens and greenspaces with positive outcomes for the environment.

The benefits from access to quality greenspace become available to all, by prioritising areas of the city in most need of environmental enhancements.

Our greenspaces have a higher biodiversity value through targeted, evidence-based interventions.

More of our walking, running and cycling routes weave through greenspaces, making it a safer and more enjoyable way to travel. More of our roadways are lined with trees, biodiverse hedgerows and other nature-based solutions, helping to reduce pollution and providing green corridors for active travel routes.

What does success look like? Outcomes for the 'Thriving' greenspaces theme:

People have easier access to a greater variety of greenspaces which are appropriate to their wellbeing needs.

More people and a greater diversity of people use greenspaces to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

There is more equitable access to high quality greenspaces throughout the city.

For those who would benefit most, there is an increase in usage and length of time they spend in greenspace for health, recreation, social and cultural activities.

More people and a greater diversity of people are spending longer in their greenspaces to relax, exercise, socialise, take part in and run activities and events.

What does success look like? Outcomes for the 'Valued' greenspaces theme:

More people and a greater diversity of people are attracted to volunteering in their greenspaces.

More people and a greater diversity of people are actively involved in strategic planning, management and delivery of activities for greenspaces.

More of Edinburgh’s public greenspaces are protected and enhanced to a consistently high standard, which benefits the local environment and communities.

There are more opportunities around the city to host festivals and events in our greenspaces on an environmentally sustainable basis with activities appropriate to the landscape’s design and community needs.

What does success look like? Outcomes for the 'Resourced' greenspaces theme:

Continued investment in our staff, equipment and estate to protect and enhance high quality greenspaces.

A workforce with the capability and capacity necessary for achieving the Council’s ambitions for high quality, well-maintained and thriving greenspaces.

There are higher levels of staff satisfaction and more development opportunities for staff.

Improved information about how our service is performing and how we allocate resources, so that we are better equipped to adapt our action plan to meet changing priorities.

Better and more consistent sharing of information leading to more creative solutions and best practice for managing our greenspaces.

Increased and more effective collaboration with other Council services and external stakeholders through partnership working to efficiently deliver shared priorities.