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Eco-Friendly Parks: 7 Best Practices and 6 Great Examples Worldwide

Parks are renowned for their green spaces and recreational activities. However, one can vary significantly from another based on their sustainable practices. What features let eco-friendly parks help the environment?

The world has developed better practices and wisely constructed better recreational facilities. Here are some environmentally friendly practices to consider and where to find green parks worldwide. 

How Are Eco-Friendly Parks Sustainable?

Visiting an eco-friendly park means getting as close to nature as possible. What features should these green spaces have? Here are seven components necessary for environmentally friendly recreation.  

1. Minimized Pavement

Pavement makes walking on park paths easier but harms the environment. Sunshine on concrete creates heat islands by warming the surrounding air.

This hot air rises into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Parks must also consider how water erodes the pavement, leading to cracks and unsafe pathways. 

Eco-friendly parks minimize pavement usage and instead implement more natural walkways. These paths may consist of gravel, mulch and other alternatives to avoid the harmfulness of concrete.

Some experts have suggested solar reflective pavement to decrease heat absorption and improve comfort. 

Watch this video by Civilex for more sustainable pavement solutions:

2. Natural Playgrounds

Kids love playing on swing sets, monkey bars and jungle gyms. However, this equipment often contains plastic and metal and harms the environment. Plastic playground toys also release toxins, hurting local water supplies. How can park planners help children have fun while maintaining a safe environment?

Eco-friendly parks change the narrative by creating natural playgrounds. The equipment consists of sustainable and biodegradable materials instead of plastic. For example, a play castle could use recycled wood instead of new lumber. These green areas also use trees and nature for recreation instead of manufactured systems.

3. Irrigation Systems

Rain is natural in most climates, so preparing for it is essential. Environmentally conscious parks take advantage of rainfall through irrigation systems. These mechanisms capture water and use it for drinking or watering plants. They’re also helpful in areas with water scarcity, such as the American Southwest.

An effective eco-friendly strategy for parks is to have a rainwater harvesting system. This approach addresses shortages by limiting runoff. An efficient harvesting system could support water fountains and crucial park infrastructure. Research shows this strategy enhances resources and helps groundwater sustainability. 

4. Community Gardens

Planning a park with eco-friendly features means emphasizing green wherever possible. Planting trees, flowers, fruits and vegetables is an excellent start for healthier parks. Community gardens let people grow plants and take advantage of fresh food. They also make green spaces look more aesthetically pleasing and increase the sense of community. 

Community garden with different plants

Research shows community gardens benefit public health through better physical and social outcomes. They also improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen. Parks can implement stone walkways inside the garden to help visitors explore the vicinity.  

5. Native Species

While gardens are functional, parks should ensure these areas are safe for plants. Native species should be the only selections for the garden because they’re best for the environment. Invasive species can ruin parks by stealing nutrients from existing plants. Therefore, indigenous flowers might not grow sufficiently and risk extinction.

For example, some American parks have planted Japanese honeysuckles for their aesthetics. However, their vines deprive and smother surrounding vegetation, making it dangerous for gardens. 

6. Renewable Energy

Outdoor spaces still require energy to support infrastructure like offices, lights and water fountains. Conventional electricity systems get their power from fossil fuels, contributing to environmental harm. What do eco-friendly parks do?

These recreational facilities leverage solar and wind energy, ventilation and other innovative techniques. For example, photovoltaic (PV) panels are suitable for keeping lights on. Windy areas like the American Midwest can utilize turbines to power parks. 

Electric vehicle (EV) chargers are another eco-friendly practice in parks. These systems encourage people to bring zero-emission cars and limit their environmental impact. The future of parks could see wireless EV charging, increasing convenience and safety for drivers. 

7. Bike Racks

Increasing sustainability in parks should include inclusivity for all transportation types. Some visitors choose not to drive or ride transit, opting instead for cycling or walking. Eco-friendly facilities should consist of plentiful space for safe walking and bike riding. Promoting these methods helps visitors feel more secure inside and outside the vicinity.

Some may want to ride bicycles to the park but walk inside it. Eco-friendly parks should implement bike racks to encourage cycling instead of driving. The public area would also benefit from bike loops to create designated paths for riders.

Where Can You Find Eco-Friendly Parks Worldwide?

Greener spaces have been a priority for cities and countries worldwide. These six eco-friendly parks set the standard for creative and sustainable planning. 

1. La Mexicana Park

Head to Mexico City to see La Mexicana Park for an excellent urban green space. This park is in the city’s southwest corner and is a sustainability crown jewel. La Mexicana Park features over 2,500 trees and 70,000 square meters of grass for visitors. It is also a haven for wildlife, as ducks and migratory birds are present here. 

Parque La Mexicana

source: Parque La Mexicana

While the green space stands out, La Mexicana Park excels with conservation features. For example, the park features a rainwater collection system to provide facilities with water. The mechanism redistributes rainwater for irrigation and cleaning purposes, emphasizing conservation. La Mexicana Park only produces potable water for its drinking fountains. 

2. Abraham Ledeboerpark

The Netherlands excels in sustainability with locations like Abraham Ledeboerpark. This recreational area just north of Enschede provides environmental education for locals and tourists with excellent management. You may see students studying or walking their dogs. The park gets its name from Abraham Ledeboer, a textile industry professional from Enschede. 

abraham ledeboerpark

source: Tubantia

Abraham Ledeboerpark features a lake, mature trees and relaxing green spaces for walking. Park officials have restored trees and walking paths after heavy storms to foster sustainability. Abraham Ledeboerpark’s efforts have earned a Green Flag Award, denoting its eco-friendly practices. 

3. Roma Street Parklands

Brisbane, Australia, is famous for the Gold Coast but also has an excellent eco-friendly park. This city prides itself on Roma Street Parklands north of the Brisbane River. This Green Flag Award winner showcases what sustainability efforts can do. 

This park offers lakes, a children’s playground and other fun features. Free guided tours will take you around the park, exploring all the green spaces. The Spectacle Garden is a local favorite because of its colorful flowers and artwork year-round. You also get open space to run around and relax on green grass.

roma street parklands

source: Greener Spaces Better Places

Roma Street Parklands is relatively new, opening to the public in 2001. With the 2032 Olympics coming, Brisbane is helping the park’s transit options. Local leaders are developing an underground station to reduce car dependency and traffic here. 

4. The Eden Project

Southwest England contains one of the U.K.’s most significant sustainable efforts — the Eden Project. This park sits north of St. Austell and is just a short drive from the English Channel. The Eden Project is an environmental charity aiming to educate the public on sustainability. Originally a clay pit, this facility features multiple domes with thousands of plants.

Watch this video by Going Green:

Each dome has different biomes featuring climates you see worldwide. For example, the outdoor gardens, rainforest and Mediterranean biomes differ in temperature and humidity. The English attraction also displays a botanical garden with native plant species. 

A rainwater collection system provides irrigation, so municipal water is only for people. Additionally, the facility leverages solar power and geothermal energy to ensure adequate heat. 

5. Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a sizable nature park overlooking the Singapore Strait. Singapore is famous for sustainable design, and you see it here. The park uses innovative methods to decrease energy consumption to cool plants and visitors. 

gardens by the bay

Source: Green Roofs

For instance, the air domes use dehumidifiers to lessen cooling needs. Advanced glass panels reduce solar heat gain while ensuring plants get enough sunlight. The facility also uses biomass for energy production when chilling underground water pipes. 

Eco-friendly parks are at the heart of Gardens by the Bay. However, the star of the show might be the supertrees. These spectacles reach up to 50 meters high and light up the sky at night. The trees utilize audio speakers and harvest solar energy to ensure sustainability.  

6. Discovery Green Park

Parks showing eco-friendly features are also in the United States. Head to Houston, Texas, for its 12-acre Discovery Green Park. This downtown urban green area utilizes recycled materials and ethically sourced wood from sustainable forests to reduce its environmental impact. 

Discovery Green in Downtown Houston

source: Expedia

Houston is a hot and humid city in the summer, requiring superb cooling. Discovery Green Park’s buildings wield solar panels to produce energy and help the grid. The facility boasts 256 solar panels to make the offices comfortable and heat water. The Houston park also has an efficient irrigation system to collect groundwater for the lake and restrooms.

Finding Eco-Friendly Parks 

Parks are bastions of environmental consciousness in many cities and are a haven for those seeking refuge in nature. These green spaces demonstrate how people connect with and support the natural world. 

Better practices will lead to more eco-friendly parks worldwide as more people become aware of the importance of conservation. However, many localities have already shown the best of sustainable innovation, allowing visitors to reap the benefits. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a park eco-friendly?

Environmentally conscious parks minimize human impact on the environment and work with nature. For example, they may use low-flow irrigation systems to help the local ecosystem.

How can people be eco-friendly at parks?

Visitors can help parks by eliminating waste and refraining from plastic use. When possible, they should use bikes and zero-emission vehicles to avoid pollution.

How are parks good for the environment?

Parks benefit the environment by isolating space for wildlife and plants. These green spaces foster biodiversity and educate people on conservation. They also capture carbon through trees and plants, combating climate change.

References

Modded: EV Wireless Charging: How Close Are We?
Wabash Valley: How to Design a Public Park
SL Recycling: Benefits of Recycling Wood
Natural Resources Defense Council: Fossil Fuels: The Dirty Facts

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