Wirral, United Kingdom
City population: 319680
Duration: 2002 – 2007
Implementation status: Completed
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: 914590 m2
Type of area: Public Greenspace Area
Last updated: October 2021

Birkenhead Park is one of the most important public parks in Britain. It is registered Grade I in English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. In 2002 to 2007, funding was made available to restore the park, and now in 2017 a master plan aims to further “enhance and secure” the park. (Ref. 1, 2, 3). Birkenhead park is considered the first publicly funded park in the world, and not only holds the Grade I in English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest award but also the Green Flag award. (Ref 6, 7, 8)

Birkenhead park
https://theguideliverpool.com/10-reasons-why-we-love-birkenhead-park/

Overview

Nature-based solution

  • Grey infrastructure featuring greens
  • Alley and street greens
  • Parks and urban forests
  • Large urban parks or forests
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Lakes/ponds

Key challenges

  • Climate action for adaptation, resilience and mitigation (SDG 13)
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Improvements to water quality
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Habitat and biodiversity restoration
  • Habitat and biodiversity conservation
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Inclusive and effective governance (SDG 16)
  • Inclusive governance
  • Social justice, cohesion and equity (SDG 10)
  • Environmental education
  • Social cohesion
  • Health and well-being (SDG 3)
  • Enabling physical activity
  • Improving physical health
  • Creation of opportunities for relaxation and recreation
  • Economic development and employment (SDG 8)
  • Tourism support
  • Cultural heritage and cultural diversity
  • Protection of historic and cultural landscape/infrastructure
  • Promotion of cultural diversity

Focus

Maintenance and management of urban nature, Ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems, Monitoring of habitats and/or biodiversity

Project objectives

The three principle habitats comprise the woodland, open grassland and the three lakes. “Birkenhead Park has the potential to be ecologically varied, providing a rich resource for an otherwise urban environment. Intensive use and physical deterioration reduced the opportunities for biodiversity in the recent past and these situations need to be reversed if the nature conservation value of the site is to be enhanced”. The general purpose of the restoration project (summarised): preserve and protect the character, appearance and structure of the park, improve opportunities for Heritage interpretation and education and collate archive material as an educational resource, encourage people to participate in and appreciate the value of recreation, conservation, cultural activity and sport. (Ref. 1) Suggestions for the future scheme include: the island in the centre of the Upper Lake to be developed as a habitat for the future possibility of creating a reserve for red squirrels. (Ref. 2, 3) This plan will ensure community involvement, improved visitor services, improved standards of maintenance and improved security and community safety. A key element of this work has been the engagement of the local community and key stakeholders to ensure their involvement and sense of ownership in the future management and development of the park. Key to this has been the involvement of local schools and groups in annual programmes of events and activities based around community arts, local heritage, health activities and sports. (Ref 6)

Implementation activities

Measures from the restoration scheme (2002-2007) include new trees/shrubbery planted, a holly hedge was planted, lake edges were restored to their earlier form, water quality of the lakes was improved, marginal planting introduced, resulting in lakes becoming refuge for wildlife as well as "an outdoor classroom for schools and groups". Works at the lakes involved draining, de-silting, constructing of bridges, new borehole and aeration system. (Ref. 1) A key element of this work has been the engagement of the local community and key stakeholders to ensure their involvement and sense of ownership in the future management and development of the park. (Ref 6) The park also contributes to meeting Wirral’s Carbon reduction and other environmental targets by providing green space services close to the borough’s largest population centre and thus increasing the liveability of Birkenhead and thereby enabling people to live close to where they work. (Ref. 1)

Climate-focused activities

Climate change mitigation:

  • Increase green urban nature for carbon storage (wetlands, tree cover)
  • Implement sustainable forest management measures to increase carbon sinks/ improve carbon storage

Biodiversity conservation or restoration-focused activities

Biodiversity conservation:

  • Protect and enhance urban habitats
  • Preserve and strengthen existing habitats and ecosystems
  • Protect species
  • Undertake specific measures to protect species
  • Undertake specific measures to protect valued species
  • Means for conservation governance
  • Raise public awareness
  • Public engagement

Biodiversity restoration:

  • Rehabilitate and restore damaged or destroyed ecosystems
  • Restore species (native, endangered, or unspecified)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Public sector institution (e.g. school or hospital)
  • Citizens or community groups

Governance

Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality
  • Private sector/corporate actor/company

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Co-planning
  • Dissemination of information and education
  • Consultation (e.g. workshop, surveys)
  • Joint implementation (e.g. tree planting)

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

Owned by Wirral Council. (Ref. 1) Wirral Council manages Birkenhead Park in partnership with many individuals, groups and organisations. Some key groups and organisations are: Birkenhead Park Advisory Committee, Friends of Birkenhead Park, Birkenhead Park Stakeholders Group (this group was set up at the start of the Restoration Project, to act as a liaison group during the works). (Ref. 1) The submission for the restoration scheme was developed by Wirral Council Hilary Taylor Landscape Associates Limited (HTLA) as lead landscape consultant. (Ref. 1)

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Unknown
... a national policy or strategy? Unknown
... a local policy or strategy? Yes (Birkenhead Park has been the subject of detailed scrutiny, the outcome of these was presented in the Birkenhead People’s Park, Restoration and Management Plan, prepared for the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in 1999. As a result of this report, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded development funds to Wirral Council. Wirral Council pursues a wide range of policies and strategies that have a direct influence on the management of the borough’s parks and open spaces. The key policies affecting the management of Birkenhead Park are: The Unitary Development Plan 2000 (replaced by the Local development framework; Strategic Policies (e.g. the protection of urban greenspace); Wirral Council Environmental Management Policy 2003; Wirral Council Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2007 and The Wirral Biodiversity Action Plan 2003 (The rest are listed in Ref. 1) "The ‘Invest to Save’ programme, all parks to have management plans, increased planting of trees to soak up groundwater and provide shade, increase composting, all departments to achieve ISO 14001 accreditation, increasing usage of local suppliers, Increasing the number of people walking, cycling or using public transport o get to work. (Ref. 1) )

Financing

Total cost

More than €4,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • Public regional budget
  • Funds provided by non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • Private Foundation/Trust

Type of funding

  • Direct funding or subsidy

Non-financial contribution

Type of non-financial contribution
  • Provision of land
  • Provision of labour
Who provided the non-financial contribution?
  • Public authorities (e.g. land, utility services)
  • Citizens (e.g. volunteering)

Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Water management and blue areas
  • Improved water quality
  • Green space and habitat
  • Increased green space area
  • Increased conservation or restoration of ecosystems
  • Increased number of species present

Economic impacts

  • Generation of income from NBS

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Improved physical health
  • Gain in activities for recreation and exercise
  • Cultural heritage and sense of place
  • Protection of historic and cultural landscape / infrastructure
  • Education
  • Increased support for education and scientific research

Type of reported impacts

Achieved impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system

Yes

Presence of indicators used in reporting

Yes

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

Yes

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No

References