Five suggestions for successfully managing urban greenspace

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1. Involve. Get involved yourself in the community round the site, if you can. This may mean approaching bodies not directly involved with the greenspace, such as a housing association, church or social club. Go to committee meetings. Get yourself on the agenda. Then see if the opposite also holds true -see if people want to become involved with your site and what it does. Can they attract a small lottery grant, or run an event?

2. React. Things move quickly in urban situations. People use the site and the way they do so may change. If some kids start doing things - either undesirable or otherwise - you need to respond, for example if kids build a camp where you don't want them too, you need to get it out very soon or they'll get accustomed to doing it. Better to intervene early and suggest a better place for it, or some other activity.

3. Anticipate. There are patterns to the way people behave, just as in the natural world. On the first hot weekend for months, you will have lots of visitors. Be ready for them. When half-term comes, the kids will be looking for something to do in the evening. Perhaps that's the time to put on an event. When were all the grassfires last year? They'll be the same time next year. Take appropriate precautions.

4. Value. Have faith in the local distinctiveness and history that all sites have. Every site has a story, every place has something special about it. Find those things, listen to what people say about them.

5. Respect. It's often easy to think of the value of urban greenspace in fairly negative terms, especially if it's a site that's suffered a lot of abuse. Don't fall into this trap - to the people and the wildlife that use it, this is the most important space around. Treat it with respect, and you may in time teach others to do the same.

From Matthew Chatfield, the Virtual Ranger, find him at:

First published in CJS Focus on Urban Greenspace in association The Land Restoration Trust on 17 August 2009

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Posted On: 17/08/2009

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