Hazlehead Climate Change Park
In 2013, Greenspace Scotland worked in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and community group, Friends of Hazlehead, to develop a new management plan for Hazlehead Park – one which met local priorities and contributed to both climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Hazlehead is one of Aberdeen’s flagship parks, covering over 180 hectares including large areas of woodland, football pitches, and golf courses.
2013 – Present (ongoing)
What problems did it address?
The predicted impacts of climate change in Aberdeen include hotter, drier summers but with much shorter periods of high rainfall. The warmer temperatures will increase demand for usable outdoor spaces and facilities, particularly high quality greenspaces which often provide areas of shade.
New sustainable drainage features have been installed to help address the likelihood that intense rainfall as a result of climate change will cause flash flooding in neighbouring communities.
Hotter temperatures will also impact negatively upon wildlife populations and some interventions within the park have been designed to support wildlife in adapting to climate change.
How did it do?
The management plan recommended a series of actions that together would maximise the park’s potential at alleviating some of the predicted future impacts of climate change listed above.
Greenspace scotland, Aberdeen City Council, Friends of Hazlehead and local partners worked together to gradually implement a number of the recommendations in the management plan. Its climate change focus helped to secure funding for a full hydrological study which has allowed them to make a number of small scale changes within the park to divert floodwater away from key sites, but also to begin to install sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in the woodland areas – thus reducing flood risk to surrounding communities.
Hazlehead Park sits within an overall habitat network which spans the city region, and it therefore serves an important ecological function by providing space for wildlife to move through. The project partners wanted to create new habitats within the park to help wildlife better adapt to a changing climate and new wetland areas associated with SuDs has created new wetland habitats.
The park links to a series of city-wide networks and the council have invested in walking and cycling infrastructure in and around the park using money from the Bus Lanes charges across the city.
The ‘pet’s corner’ building situated within the park boundary has been retrofitted and connected to the local district heat network to reduce its energy use. The building has also now been repurposed as an education centre with a focus on climate change (climate change information is also included on new signage across the park).
Greenspace scotland used the Community Placemaking approach to develop a shared vision and action plan for the park. Partners also used the ‘Retrofitting urban parks to deliver climate change actions’ resource that explores and illustrates the opportunities to adjust greenspace design and management to maximise climate change benefits.
Carbon sequestration and soil conservation are key components of the woodland and park management plans. New wetland areas could also contribute to carbon sequestration.
Who has benefited and how?
As a result of the changes made to the park, local residents have benefitted by having an improved greenspace to visit for recreation close to where they live, and which is easily accessible on foot or by cycling.
By acting as a ‘sink’ for floodwater, new SuDS have been introduced to reduce flooding to neighbouring communities.
Some local wildlife populations have also benefitted as the new SuDS have created new wetland habitats and reinvigorated management of the woodland policies, including work with the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel Project which is increasing the biodiversity of these woodlands.
What was the cost and how was it developed?
Hazlehead Climate Change Park initiative was funded by the Periurban Parks Project (part of the European Union’s InterReg IVC programme) and also received support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Ready Communities pilot. While exact figures for the total cost of the project are not available, it is estimated that this was in the region of £10-15,000 in total.
Evidence of success
The impact of the climate change focused placemaking was not restricted to Hazlehead Park. Aberdeen City Council used the learning from Hazlehead to inform greenspace management across the city, including the creation of wetlands for flood management at Seaton Park, burn restoration at East Tullos and the introduction of wildflower areas in the city centre.
Inspired by the Climate Change Park programme greenspace scotland is now exploring the contribution that parks and greenspaces can make to the Scottish Government’s ambitions to decarbonise the energy system.
The ParkPower programme initially carried out feasibility work to understand the potential for heat pump technology to support the heat demands of buildings sited in and around urban greenspaces and is now looking more broadly at Green Heat in greenspaces with 15 of Scotland’s 32 Local Authorities.
Initially it was a challenge to find funding to support the project. Greenspace Scotland developed the concept and approach of climate change parks, but it was up to individual councils and organisations to opt in to taking part in the programme and to find the resources to do so. It was also a challenge bringing the right partners together to develop the climate change park report and feed the recommendations into the management plan.
For further information:
Name: Ea O’Neill