DRAFT Haringey’s Parks and Green Spaces Strategy by Paul Ely
How will Climate Change impact on parks and how can parks help in mitigating the impact of climate change?

Paul Ely is looking for steers and support from Haringey Climate Forum on reducing the carbon emissions and protecting the ecology of Haringey’s green spaces. Everyone is encouraged to respond to Paul.Ely@haringey.gov.uk 

Background
The world is getting warmer and wetter as a result of people induced climate change.
This is having multiple effects on virtually every aspect of our lives including the buildings in which we live and work and how we travel.
The Council has declared that there is a climate emergency and is working to achieve a position where Haringey is zero net carbon by 2041.
Parks and green spaces can both contribute towards achieving this target and help to mitigate some of the impact of climate change.
In this paper, we have sought to identify key areas and the key contributions that parks and green spaces can make as well as seeking to identify issues that may need resolution

Areas where parks can contribute
There are five main areas identified where the management and design of parks can contribute. These are:

  • By reducing the carbon footprint of parks building
  • By reducing the carbon footprint of vehicles and machinery used for the management and maintenance of parks
  • By changes to the design and management of parks and greenspaces e.g. SUDS, reduce intensity of maintenance, design out the need for machinery
  • By parks contributing towards the use of more sustainable means of transport particularly cycling
  • And potentially, by working towards a method of service delivery that is carbon neutral.

The Council has already agreed to support the Parks service to reduce the carbon footprint of parks buildings and of its vehicles and both initiatives will be captured in the overall PGSS. A transition to battery powered small tools has commenced.

Both areas will be significant in moving the service forward towards producing less carbon but at this point in time the more detailed work in support of both projects has still to be done.

Changes to the design and management of parks and greenspaces

Climate change is already bringing warmer, drier summers, wetter winters and overall greater unpredictability with extreme weather events such as gales and torrential downpours becoming more frequent. These changes will benefit some species and threaten others. Some familiar plants or animals may struggle to survive whilst some pest species may increase in number and become invasive.
Haringey’s green infrastructure helps in reducing the impacts of climate change on the lives of our residents. Vegetation has been shown to reduce the effects of raised urban temperatures through evaporative cooling, shading surfaces, and allowing natural drainage. This can work in reverse in winter where greenery such as green roofs and walls can reduce the heat lost by buildings by providing better insulation and thus lowering energy use. Street trees and urban greening are also a major contribution to the capture and storage of CO2 and improvement of air quality. As well as vegetation, the presence of open bodies of water, such as ponds, can assist with the cooling of surrounding areas and in reducing daytime temperatures.
Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS) can not only prevent localised flooding and the pollution of natural waterways, they can provide new opportunities for wildlife-friendly planting.
Work to combat the challenges of climate change is already taking place and is ongoing. This includes selecting species of street trees that are more drought tolerant and considered more able to adapt to the predicted changes to our climate in the next 50 years; relaxing mowing regimes in parks, on housing estates and roadside verges and planting more drought-tolerant alternatives to grass such as clover; renovating existing planted areas to be less machinery intensive to maintain; and planting more herbaceous bedding that requires less water and lower levels of maintenance.
Emerging plans and policies that will assist in helping to adapt to climate change are:

  • The Biodiversity Action Plan
  • The Watercourses/flood management Plan
  • The Trees and Woodlands Plan
  • The Asset Management Plan and its associated sub plan for Sustainable design
  • The Community Engagement and Volunteering Plan
  • The policy for Litter and Waste Management
  • The use of chemicals policy
  • The food growing policy
  • The development of a Natural Capital Account for Haringey

Key issues to highlight for design and management associated with the emerging plans and policies

Key issue 1:
Protecting and promoting biodiversity via a robust new BAP will be pivotal in adaptation.
The Council’s Planning Service are core partners for the BAP and are working with Parks to strengthen the Council’s policies, assist in the systematic collection of data and collaborate more closely with parks where there are biodiversity BAP implications arising from planning applications
Key issue 2:
There is significantly less green space in the east of Haringey, greater density of population and higher levels of pollution and poorer air quality.
We are of the view that this will need to be addressed as part of the wider actions on climate change.
Key issue 3:
The Council will need to build public support if it is to successfully adapt to climate change and parks and green spaces can be fruitful sources of community support for initiatives such as:

  • Looking after including watering street trees and trees in parks
  • Species recording by community organisations
  • Litter picking by volunteers
  • Acting as champions for environmental issues
  • Generating positive publicity

Key issue 4:
The Council currently uses chemical treatments particularly glyphosate, to manage weed growth.
This is because it has found no alternative approaches that are not time and labour intensive.
The parks service aims to minimise the use it makes of inorganic chemical pesticides and herbicides when managing and maintaining parks and green spaces (including land managed on behalf of Homes for Haringey).
Where possible and practicable the parks service will use traditional methods of weed control (such as hand weeding, mulching, hoeing etc) but these can be expensive or impractical which may necessitate the use of chemical alternatives.

Parks contributing towards the use of more sustainable means of transport particularly walking and cycling

Reducing pollution from vehicles by encouraging more sustainable transport options, particularly walking and cycling, is an important part of the Council’s approach towards climate change.
In part this assumes an increasing use of parks and green spaces for cycling as well as more cycling infrastructure such as for bike parking.
Whilst this initiative must be supported, there are two possible negative implications it could lead to. These are:

  • Negative impact on habitat. Parkland Walk is the clearest example of this. It is a Local Nature Reserve that is extensively used for walking and cycling. The overuse of the reserve is starting to degrade the nature as users carve out wider swathes in their efforts to coexist.
  • We are seeking to support more usage of parks by members of the community who have potentially greater health needs such as older people and people with disabilities. However, their ability to enjoy green space can be impacted by cyclists riding too fast or being insufficiently aware of the needs of other park users.

By working towards a method of service delivery that is carbon neutral.

In considering the wider strategic outcomes that parks could contribute to, we have had initial discussions about the potential for making the delivery of the Parks service carbon neutral. A number of the most important strands that would contribute towards this such as the footprints of buildings and vehicles already have actions agreed for them that would assist in moving towards this target and as set out above various plans and policies will also contribute.
We are not aware of any other local authority that has declared that it wants to achieve this.