Six reports covering economic, environmental and social issues


European funding allowed Hybrid Parks to commission some studies, surveys and toolkits. These are the summaries and download links:

Indicative Economic Assessment for Green Infrastructures – A toolkit and a case study

Making the case for investment in parks and gardens is a critical step in ensuring that the wide range of benefits, such as those for health, tourism and employment, are sustained. With strong competing pressures on finance, developing tools to assist in robustly describing the economic value of parks and gardens can support all negotiations for investment.

Through Hybrid Parks the partners in Cheshire West & Chester were able to develop the Green Infrastructure Valuation Toolkit and to use it to derive monetary values for the social, economic and environmental benefits that Northwich Woodlands – as the chosen case study – provides.

With over €14m of GVA, positive Impact on property value of €11m and €36m of wider economic benefit, the case study showed just how valuable this asset is for the economy and community. These values are significant. They show the value of the asset that has been created at Northwich Woodlands, an area that was derelict 20 years ago.

Tourism provides the greatest GVA benefit. The health benefits are significant in the wider economic benefits and will become increasingly important as the focus on increasing physical activity and the role of green spaces in supporting good mental health increases. The toolkit also shows that land and property value will increase; there is good evidence that people choose to live in attractive settings. This is also good news for the development at Northwich Woodlands, having an extensive green space on the doorstep will be important in helping to attract new investment, houses, jobs and growth to Northwich itself.

As ever, the key issue is who pays for the benefits that are being provided? There is no simple answer but it does need to be a mix of private, public and importantly community investment, with a focus on ensuring equity of benefit, high quality design and long term management in order to realise the return on each investment. This is a key challenge for Hybrid Parks.

Transnational cooperation with Hybrid Park Partners can help to develop the toolkit further and enable us to take a collective approach to promoting the economic as well as the intrinsic value of parks and gardens.

(Study commissioned by Cheshire West & Chester Council and realised by the council’s specialist environmental services of the Total Environment Team)

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Measuring Economic, Ecological and other Effects of Gardens and Parks

Gardens and parks exist in many different sizes, contexts and styles leading from small front door gardens to landscape gardens and protected areas such as national parks. They are as diverse as their creators, as different as their geographical contexts and as manifold as their plants. No one garden or park is the same. Gardens and parks constitute an integral part of our tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Gardens and parks have become important leisure attractions and are capable of luring huge numbers of visitors.

A number of changes in our society have led to this growing recognition and higher demand of gardens and parks in urban areas as well as in the countryside. Our society has become more environmentally conscious with changed values and attitudes to nature and sustainability. Gardening and “grow your own” has gained a new lease of life. People nowadays make a social statement by cultivating a garden and they are well up to speed with the latest gardening trends reported in an ever increasing number of garden magazines and garden shows. People also place more and more value on buying organic products. Increased urbanization has caused a distance between people and natural space with the result that they are longing for green spaces. Big efforts have been put into “greening the city” and open space planning based on ecological principles. Many historic gardens in rural areas have been rejuvenated and restored and are no longer considered as nice “add-on” but have become successful attractions in their own right.

Although there is evidence that gardens and parks benefit our society in a variety of ways it is important to show how such benefits could be measured and used by practitioners. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify and explain indicators of the benefits of gardens and parks and to present techniques for the measurement of these benefits. While emphasis is placed on the economic contribution of gardens and parks, ecological, sociocultural and community effects are also considered in this study. The study presents a toolbox that should help managers of parks and gardens to evaluate economic and other impacts of their sites and some final conclusions and recommendations.

(Study commissioned by Gartenplattform Niederösterreich and realised by IMC University of Applied Sciences (Krösbacher, Okorokoff, Tischler, Kraushofer))

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Garden Shows and Festivals as a business model – Case studies and innovative approaches

It is the main aim of the study to provide sufficient and appropriate information to consider the development of some new or alternative form of garden shows.

The study researches the role of garden shows and festivals and their impact in several categories, such as the variety of uses and potential for parks and gardens, the economic benefits, tourism but also inward investment and job creation.

The study establishes an overview what shows there are and what the nature of the show is. Those shows that are the most compatible with the physical resources and the ideological base of the parks and gardens within Hybrid Parks were selected as case studies for detail investigation. The case studies included Philadelphia Flower Show, Giardina in Zurich, the Keukenhof near Amsterdam, two shows in Germany, “Floralie” in Nantes, Chaumont in France and the RHS shows at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Park as well as some smaller, more local orientated shows.

Case studies provide key facts (such as location, venue, gross floor area, dates, origins, theme, opening times, and ticket prices), visitor facts (including number of visitors, age groups, professional visitors, reasons for attendance, visitor assessment, origin of local visitors, home/garden ownership and intention to invest in a garden) and exhibitor facts (total number of exhibitors, main exhibitor goals and attainment, ratings, market positioning). Each case study also delivers information and evaluation on location and facilities, exhibitions and show gardens, associated/parallel events, awards, marketing, sponsorship, exhibitor terms and conditions and end with a concise summary and conclusions.

A series of recommendations was distilled from the case studies offering good prospects for new shows. There is certainly the need and opportunity to extend beyond the current norm of visitor profile with a narrow range of age and socio-economic groups. This may move the current idea of a garden show into new dimensions. There may be an emphasis on the arts and music to attract younger generations; environmental issues could form an underlying base; regional food could also attract more visitors. Working with students on the design of show gardens may add fresh ideas to a show and attract new visitor groups. A show based solely on gardens and plants will have a finite audience, a broader base line could prove more economically beneficial as well as more sustainable.

(Study commissioned by Schloss Dyck Foundation and realised by Ed Bennis)

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Individual site reports here.


Rain Gardens in Private Gardens as an Element of Sustainable Water Management

Looking at the effects of anthropogenic climate change, we can observe an increase of heavy rainfall, of extreme drought and of the effects of urban heat island – even in rural residential areas. The study shows the need for a shift of paradigm from getting rid of rainwater “as securely and quickly as possible” to a sustainable management that keeps rainwater on site as long as possible. Sustainable rainwater management includes all actions to ensure the maximum return of precipitation into the natural water cycle and as close to the site of occurrence as possible. The sustainable use of rainwater helps to prevent damages caused by overloading the sewage systems.

For holistic concepts of sustainable rainwater management already small interventions in single gardens are important as their replications support the functions of the ecosystem. Rain gardens in private gardens are one of those successful small interventions. This study examines the opportunities of the installation of different types of rain gardens in private gardens, with Lower Austria as a pilot area.

Rain gardens are made up of native perennial plants with soil designed to absorb and to manage storm water runoff. Their size and shape varies, but there is always a positive impact on the environment, in addition to the storm water management. Rain gardens function like planted infiltration or evaporation beds that can provide a variety of functions in residential areas and private gardens, such as an increase of biodiversity, resilience of gardens, aesthetic values strengthening regional characteristics and identities, recreational qualities and the understanding of natural processes.

The study is a determined and helpful handbook for private garden owners who want to realize a rain garden on their ground. Practical guidance – including design proposals and plant lists – is given in six chapters: “Understand the site and its surrounding context”; “Determine the size and location of the rain garden”; “Design a space-based shaping”; “Plug the place, secure the topsoil, earth, and deliver additional substrate”; “Planting” and “Observe and maintain”.

(Study commissioned by Natur im Garten and realised by Christine Rottenbacher)

[Download not found] English version
[Download not found] German version


Consideration of Climate Change in the Design of Parks and Open Spaces

The report analyses studies, plans and projects carried out in Germany as a whole and in North Rhine-Westphalia in particular to provide relevant information about key aspects and solutions that have been pursued in relation to climate change and the design of parks and open spaces. Numerous practice-oriented examples are given, which illustrate not only concrete findings, but also strategies, scopes of action and interdependencies.

The complex structures in urbanized, high-density, highly engineered and thus particularly vulnerable spaces, are the areas where there is a particular need for strategies to mitigate those extremes with can be influenced (e.g. peak temperatures in urban heat islands) and to reduce or prevent the negative impacts of climate change (e.g. damage to residential areas through flooding, storm and hail, damage to vegetation, health risks through heat stress).

The adaptation of green spaces to climate change and its impacts, and their spatial interconnection, enlargement and functional expansion is a task that must be tackled by society as a whole, and by using an integrated approach. The design or transformation of these spaces must always be incorporated into larger urban development strategies, and must entail a balance of interests between the relevant specialized agencies as well as the involvement of civil society. The private control held over significant portions of urban spaces and the trend toward relying on civic engagement for the upkeep of open spaces make public relations and civic involvement an indispensable component of sustainable open space planning and design.

The study is structured in five chapters: “Overall Context” (including stakeholders, legal principles and guidelines, research projects, need for new policies), “City / Region as a Level of Intervention” (including examples of open space development and water resource management in the Ruhr region and as an issue of climate management), “The City Neighbourhood: The Main Level of Intervention for Enhancing Open Spaces” (including unsealing and greening of open spaces, water resource management, retention areas, pilot projects for climate change sensitive design of open spaces, roadside green areas, urban agriculture and gardening, local marketing and private action for a green city, green courtyards, roofs and façades), “Financial Benefits of Open-Space Measures” and finally “Design Principles”.

(Study commissioned by the State Chancellery of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and realised by Lutz Meltzer)

[Download not found] English version
[Download not found] German version


Urban renewal with resident involvement and user influence: a new district park in Skäggetorp, Linköping Municipality, Sweden.

The district of Skäggetorp is a suburb situated about three km north from the centre of Linköping, with 8.500 inhabitants and an immigrant proportion of 44%.

A strategic plan for Skäggetorp was adopted by Linköping’s City Council in 2009. At that time Skäggetorp’s district park consisted largely of areas that lacked a clear purpose, attractiveness, purpose, use and accessibility. The new activity park, completed in 2010, was a first step in the renewal process. The park needs to provide spontaneous meeting places and the opportunity for recreation and health-promoting activities. To break the low employment trend, activities that can be run by the residents are encouraged.

It is fundamental that the entire process takes place in collaboration with the residents. In the recent years members of the municipal staff as well as different associations and organisations, schools and the churches in Skäggetorp worked together to develop an attractive park that unites architecture and design with environmental awareness and horticulture. The management team also participated in meetings organised by others to connect and to take comments from adults and children. The team also interviewed all stakeholders that work or invest in the area to have their view on outdoor activities, on the park, on the new gardening projects and on the social life in the area.

The best method to reach the inhabitants and to foster their inclusion into the design and implementation process is to be out in the park and to get in contact to the inhabitants by some very open and spontaneous actions. When a group was active with a gardening project people stopped by and talked freely. It was possible then to use the case study (as below) and the development plan as a vision for the area and to have immediate reactions upon it. Their ideas and comments about the park and their overall situation were collected. They were also asked what they would like to see happening to enhance people’s interaction and integration.

The survey also reports on additional activities to include inhabitants, led by Linköping University and based on their experiences of outdoor learning. Additionally the survey lists examples of other urban gardening projects, e.g. in the city of Helsingborg.

(Study commissioned by the City of Linköping and realised by CLGardens and University of Linköping)

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