01 May 2019 World Urban Parks - World Parks Week interview We're running a series of articles throughout the World Urban Parks World Parks week (April 27 to May 4 - 2019) to celebrate a Green Flag Award park from many of the countries that we operate in. Green Flag Award park name Provinciaal Groendomein Rivierenhof, Antwerp Interviewee Peter Verdyck, Directeur, Provinciale Groendomeinen Regio AntwerpenHow many years have you held the Green Flag Award? One year. We were the first to achieve the Green Flag Award in Belgium in 2018 Let’s start by getting to know your park or green space with a brief introduction The 135 hectare Rivierenhof was the first public provincial park in Belgium. Its origin reaches back into the 16th century, when it was a private country domain. The province of Antwerp purchased Rivierenhof in 1921 to protect it from a housing development project, and turned it into the first public provincial park in Belgium in 1923, which still its current purpose. The park offers a wide variety of landscapes, historical features, new infrastructures and activities. Rivierenhof is ISO14001 certified since 2013 and received the Green Flag Award and Silver International Large Urban Parks Award in 2018. There are about 100 employees and about 30 volunteers working at the park. The people who use our spaces are what brings them to life. Tell us a little bit about your regular visitors and any particular groups or organisations you work with. Rivierenhof attracts over one million visitors per year: 25.000 children follow educational programs for schools, many thousands of enthusiasts visit the park for recreation (walking, running, calisthenics etc.) or sports (marathon, soccer, tennis, korfball etc.) and a wide variety of other activities: concerts at the open-air theatre, stories at the fairytale house, visiting the pet garden farm, exploring botanical collections, the labyrinth, children’s playgrounds, eating and drinking facilities, jeu de boules, miniature golf, events and a wide range of free festivities including medieval re-enactments, an eco-fair and a rose-festival. Parks and green spaces are constantly evolving. Tell us about any developments or changes that you are working on over the coming year? As part of a larger spatial implementation plan we are currently reorganising sport infrastructures and the clubs in the centre of the park are moved to separate sport zones at the eastern and western borders. Our nurseries and greenhouses are reorganised to optimise the management of our botanical collections, with special attention to optimise rain water storage. We’re asking everyone to share their passion for the parks and green spaces during World Parks Week. What key message would you like to give about the importance of parks and green spaces? The mission of the Rivierenhof is: "To be for everyone the number one park to enjoy and relax in a green environment." To make cities good places to live, green areas are of huge importance. Parks are the places where citizens come together for recreation, sports and social gatherings and where they can enjoy nature, botanical collections, art, events and many other things that add to the quality of life for all ages. And finally, what does having a Green Flag Award mean to you as a professional and also to the community that use your park or green space? The Green Flag Award is important as a recognition that a park is properly managed. It is a complement for all employees and volunteers for their hard work to make the park a good place for the visitors. The community gets a signal from an external professional party that they are enjoying quality facilities and that the needs and opinions of the community are considered important for the improvement of the park. Further information: You can view Rivierenhof park's Green Flag Award profile page here and click through to the official parks page to find out more.