03 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 Bute Park, Cardiff Interviewee Dr Julia Sas, Bute Park Manager How many years have you held the Green Flag Award? 10 years (first awarded 2009) Let’s start by getting to know your park or green space with a brief introduction Bute Park & Arboretum has a castle as its backdrop and is located within the city-centre of Wales’ capital city Cardiff. It is large in size (equivalent to 80 football pitches) and contains a nationally-significant tree collection, numerous natural play features, fitness equipment, an education/visitor centre, three cafes, and a wealth of horticultural and wildlife interest. There are also built heritage features within the park including the iconic stone carved animals atop the “Animal Wall” which forms the boundary between the park and a major city centre high street, and the remains of a medieval friary. The River Taff and a canal both run through the park so there are some beautiful waterside walks. The site is also host to a busy programme of events throughout the year ranging from large festivals, charity runs and firework display to smaller community and special interest events. The site’s diversity, size and proximity to the city are what people value the most. 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. Bute Park is popular with local residents who commute through daily or visit on their lunch breaks. On the weekends and in school holidays it is full of families enjoying nature. The city’s large student population tend to live close to the park and regularly meet and socialise there. It is also a major tourist destination and is one of the city’s most highly rated attractions. The park attracts many special interest groups and also a team of active volunteers who work alongside the local Council who operate the site carrying out numerous roles from plant sales to wildlife conservation. The park receives over 2.5m visits a year. Parks and green spaces are constantly evolving. Tell us about any developments or changes that you are working on over the coming year? A dozen wildlife cameras were installed in 2018 to capture the hidden lives of Bute Park’s diverse wildlife. The cameras capture the activity of birds, bees and mammals such as hedgehogs and foxes. Over the coming year the footage will be edited to produce sequences showing the annual life cycles and interesting behaviour of the park’s wild residents. Another exciting development is a new shop selling a range of plants and shrubs. The shop is located within the park’s on-site plant nursery. This had traditionally only supplied the city’s own park and high-street horticultural displays, but recently branched out to commercial sales, which brings in new income to support park operating costs. 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? As the manager of Bute Park I am privileged to witness the positive effect parks have on people every day. I witness parents teaching their children to ride their first bike or scooter. I see people coming to the park to love, to play and to relax, but also to heal and to grieve. Many people come just to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and recharge a bit in nature. I couldn’t imagine life without access to parks and green spaces, they really are invaluable assets for people and their communities. 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? There is a whole team of Council staff who contribute the diverse range of skills, talents and passion required to operate a park like Bute Park. The Green Flag Award is testament to them and their hard work. It acknowledges the high standards we have reached and challenges us to maintain and improve them. The award is important to the regular park visitors who are passionate about what the site means to them. It gives confidence that the park meets their high standards and is a badge of quality they can proudly promote to others. Further information: You can view Bute Park's Green Flag Award profile page here and click through to the official parks page to find out more.