Merseyside’s parks and green spaces capture nearly 8,000 tonnes of carbon

Merseyside’s parks and green spaces remove the amount of carbon from the air equivalent to the emissions of more than 180,000 people flying from Glasgow to London each year.

However, these outdoor spaces could be threatened by development in the future without better protection, according to a study by the charity Fields in Trust (FIT).

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Merseyside is home to around 3,919 hectares of public parks and green spaces, according to the group’s analysis, an area almost half the size of Knowsley.

FIT estimates that this land captures about 7,839 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year, as trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).

This is roughly the equivalent of the greenhouse gases produced by 186,992 people flying from Glasgow to London.

The analysis includes public parks and gardens, playgrounds and sports fields, but excludes national parks, common lands, cemeteries and golf courses.

To calculate the amount of carbon captured, FIT assumed that each square meter of park would absorb 0.2kg of carbon per year on average – based on research by the UK Green Building Council.

FIT works with communities to preserve green spaces by agreeing to “Deeds of Engagement” with landowners – legally binding documents that define what can be done with the land.

Only around 276 hectares (7%) of parks across Merseyside are protected by such an agreement, which the charity says is one of the strongest safeguards against the loss of green space for development.

The outdoor spaces of the Liverpool communities will not be built or sold

Earlier this year, Liverpool City Council announced that all of the city’s parks were to be protected in perpetuity when the city’s acting mayor, Councilor Wendy Simon, declared 100 parks and green spaces protected – the areas in question totaled 1,039 hectares.

A unique partnership between Fields in Trust and Liverpool City Council meant the city would become the first local authority to embrace this vision. This means that the outdoor spaces of local communities will not be built or sold, and that local residents will be able to continue to use them to relax, unwind, play or exercise.

The landmark decision that was ratified at a Cabinet meeting on Friday March 19.

However, other areas of Merseyside do not enjoy the same protections as the City of Liverpool in the way it protects its parks and green spaces.

“Acts of Dedication” in the UK

In Britain as a whole, only 6% of the estimated 201,000 hectares of green space is protected by “deeds of dedication” agreed between communities and landowners.

That leaves an area equivalent to more than twice the size of New York City “in danger,” according to FIT.

As the recent COP26 climate conference in Glasgow turned to the built environment, FIT launched its ParkXtinction campaign with the aim of saving more of these green spaces.

Helen Griffiths, CEO of the charity, said: “The local response to climate action is crucial and parks can play an important role in creating a greener and more just economy.

“They can help tackle inequalities in health and opportunity between communities and we definitely need to be committed to preserving the green lungs of our cities.

“This is all in the hands of our local leaders, and now is an opportunity to change the way we think about the contribution of local green spaces to our health, our well-being, our environment and ultimately our future.

“These parks and green spaces are threatened today by financial and development pressures and it is up to all of us to stop this cycle of disappearance and decline.

“Our children and grandchildren deserve the same green space opportunities as we do, so we need to act today before it’s too late.”

A report released by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) in 2019 said the amount of green space as a proportion of urban areas across England increased from 63% to 55% between 2001 and 2018.

The most recent CCC report urged the government to create an “urban green space target” by next year to reverse the decline and ensure cities are more climate resilient.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Council, said parks were not only essential in tackling the climate crisis, but also in supporting people’s physical and mental health. .

He said: “With COP26 and climate change high on the agenda, it is imperative that the government capitalizes on the resources of the councils as one of the largest providers of public parks and parks. green spaces and protectors of the natural environment, working closely with them to ensure that the £ 9million funding announced in the expenditure review has the maximum impact on the provision of parks across the country . “

But he added that longer-term funding was needed to help councils maintain public green spaces.

A spokesperson for the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities said, “We recognize that parks and green spaces provide broader benefits to nature, our health and support our climate change commitments. exactly why we have our national strategic planning framework to ensure that existing open spaces and sports and recreation grounds do not have to be built except in very special circumstances.

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