A record number of parks and green spaces in Wales will be flying a Green Flag Award this year.
A total of 161 sites across the country have met the high standard needed to receive the Green Flag Award or Green Flag Community Award.
Last year 110 Welsh parks and spaces got the award – meaning the figure has risen this year by almost 50%.
Green space experts visit sites and judge them on eight standards including horticulture, cleanliness, sustainability and community involvement.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Green Flag Award scheme, which is delivered by Keep Wales Tidy with support from Welsh Government.
Over 1,600 Green Flags awarded globally
Today’s winners join more than 1,600 Green Flag Award sites across the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Australia and New Zealand.
Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said: “I am delighted to see so many green spaces achieving the standards of the Green Flag Award.
“The award helps to ensure that communities have top quality green space to enjoy and experience the outdoors, which are fundamental to the wellbeing and quality of life of our communities in Wales. I congratulate all the parks and community spaces providing excellent, year round facilities and events for everyone in Wales.”
Among this year’s recipients of the award are Cyfartha Park in Merthyr Tydfil, Penllergaer Woods in Swansea, Newry Beach Sunken Garden on Anglesey and Ynysangharad Park, in Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Cardiff collects more awards than anywhere else
Cardiff leads the way with 17 Green Flag Award sites – including, for the first time, Flat Holm Island and St Fagans Natural History Museum.
Up to 10 of these are on sites run by Cardiff Council – a record number for any council in Wales.
Cardiff Council environment spokesman Bob Derbyshire said: “We have retained Green Flag status at nine locations and secured an additional flag for Flat Holm Island for the first time.
“It is testament to the dedication and hard work of Council staff and stakeholder groups and I am sure that regular visitors will agree with me that we are lucky to have so many beautiful green spaces in our city.”
The number of community managed Green Flag Award sites has more than doubled since last year. Winners of this award rely on volunteers to maintain their facilities, and include allotments, woodlands, local nature reserves and community gardens.
Wildlife havens that keep us healthy
Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme. Our parks and green spaces play an important role in our communities, but their benefits are often taken for granted.
“As well as providing havens for wildlife, having accessible, high quality green space can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing, and local economy.
“All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. It is thanks to them that we have so many fantastic facilities available on our doorstep.”