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 Centennial Park, Sydney Interviewees Darren Handley and Antonia Sherry - Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands Management Team How many years have you held the Green Flag Award? 7 years! Let’s start by getting to know your park or green space with a brief introduction In 1888, Sir Henry Parkes dedicated Centennial Park as a public open space for the enjoyment of the people of New South Wales. Hundreds of unemployed men were enlisted to turn swamps, scrub and rock into a grand park in the Victorian tradition with formal gardens, ponds, statues and wide avenues for Sydneysiders to drive their carriages around and ‘take the air’. On 1 January 1901, Centennial Park became the focus of the nation as the site of the inauguration of Australian Federation. More than a century later, the 220-hectare public space retains its status as a people’s park – a spectacular recreational space for adults and children of all ages. It is also home to diverse flora and fauna and many significant tree plantings as well as the award-winning Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden, multiple playgrounds, restaurants and cafes. 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. Centennial Park receives approximately 16.5 million visits per annum. The main reasons for visiting are: • To exercise/play sports• To attend a music event• To relax at a BBQ or social gatheringThe Park is also one of the busiest and most diverse community sports venues in Australia. It facilitates 13 different sports with 9,158 hours of booked sport played annually by 230 sports clubs and associations. Additionally, it is one of the few inner-city parks in the world to offer horse riding as well as being one of the most cycling friendly public spaces in Sydney (750K cycling visit p.a.). Parks and green spaces are constantly evolving. Tell us about any developments or changes that you are working on over the coming year? Over the next year, we will: • Plant 343 new roses in the rose garden• Regenerate 10,000 square metres of turf in Federation Valley• Plant winter annual display of 4500 plants• Plant over 100 trees• Rectify and rehabilitate the storm water system• Regenerate the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (one of the most critically endangered communities in NSW)• Refurbish the Guriwal trail - an important Aboriginal bush tucker garden• Reinstate the Kensington Pond Footbridge which was demolished in 2017 for light rail construction. The new footbridge will restore a much-missed access point to the Park. 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? Urban green space is essential for the social and mental well-being of the community. The “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” movement highlights the health issues resulting from more people spending less time in nature including; rises in obesity, diabetes and mental illness. Additionally, parks and gardens nurture healthy ecosystems and provide many essential services such as clean water and air, climate regulation and pollination of crops. Centennial Park protects nature and critical green spaces for the community, not only for now but for future generations. As population density in Sydney grows, the important role of open, accessible green spaces increases significantly. 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? Centennial Park is honoured to have been awarded the Green Flag award for the last seven years. Professionally it provides a recognition of the huge effort that all our teams contribute to ensure that Centennial Park maintains its status as one of the best urban parks on the globe. For the community, it provides a benchmark to which we can assess ourselves to ensure that we are making all the necessary improvements required to maintain the Park and keep it safe and clean for all our visitors. Further information: You can view Centennial Park's Green Flag Award profile page here and click through to the official parks page to find out more.