Green Flag Evaluation Criteria

These are some notes on what is looked for, when evaluating a green space for  a Green Flag award:

“Any green space that is freely accessible to the public and has a site-specific management plan is eligible to apply for a Green Flag Award”

The green space award criteria:

(so these topics should be some of what is addressed in your management plan)

About the park  users:

* Who the users are

* Who they could be

* what they want

* how they are informed and involved

About your site:

* What’s special it’s history

* biodiversity

* landscape

* social and physical setting

* what its trying to achieve

Their management strategy:

  • What is there is safe
  • In line with legislation and policy
  • Well maintained
  • Plans for the future


Some explanations:

A green space is never finished – it needs to reflect and respond to the changing needs of its users, whilst retaining its character. The Green Flag Award is looking for continual improvement, hence the strap-line ‘raising the standard’. This is reflected in the scoring line used in the judging process. See the diagram below.

A green space should be striving to achieve a good level of management in all areas.

For example, in the area of horticultural management, a ‘good’ standard would require all horticultural elements to be managed in line with recognised horticultural practice – plants to be in good condition and everywhere clearly looked after. An ‘excellent’ standard would only be awarded to a site with exemplary horticultural techniques displayed throughout, understood by all staff, and accompanied by a clear plan of both how this standard would be maintained in future years and why.

It may be that a site is demonstrating a good or excellent standard in all but one or two areas. To gain and retain the Green Flag Award, it would be expected that these areas are clearly identified in the management plan alongside a coherent strategy for development. Judges may make the Award, but with clear recommendations for improvement, to which applicants would be required to respond in subsequent assessments.

Applicants are judged against 27 different criteria divided into eight sections. These are not a list of requirements – the strength of the Green Flag Award is that it provides a framework for good management that professionals can evaluate and apply to their own particular site. For some sites, some of the sub-criteria will be ‘not applicable’ and for every site their proportionate importance will vary widely. This approach provides a clear but flexible framework for current management and future planning, and helps to make a case for funding, proving the value of the site to the community that it serves (often in ways that are otherwise difficult to quantify) and recognising the hard work of staff and volunteers.


Section 1: A welcoming Place This section recognises the culmination of everything done well. A welcoming place is one that invites and draws people into it. This means creating a space which, through its visual appearance, range of facilities, standards of maintenance and ease of access, makes people feel that they are in a cared-for place.

  1. Welcome

2.Good and Safe Access

  1. Signage

4.Equal Access for All

Section 2: Healthy, Safe and Secure This section looks at how well managers understand their users’ needs, encouraging them to enjoy healthy activities using appropriate, safe-to-use facilities and activities, and to feel personally safe and secure.

  1. Appropriate Provision of Quality Facilities and Activities
  2. Safe Equipment and Facilities
  3. Personal Security
  4. Control of Dogs/Dog Fouling

Section 3: Well Maintained and Clean For aesthetic as well as health and safety reasons, issues of cleanliness and maintenance must be addressed, in particular: + litter and other waste management issues must be adequately dealt with; + grounds, buildings, equipment and other features must be well maintained; + policies on litter, vandalism and maintenance should be in place, in practice, and regularly reviewed.

  1. Litter and Waste Management
  2. Horticultural Maintenance
  3. Arboricultural Maintenance
  4. Building and Infrastructure Maintenance
  5. Equipment Maintenance

Section 4: Environmental Management

This section seeks to ensure that the way the site is managed has a positive impact on the environment, locally and globally, both now and for the future. Where choices can be made for future procurement, landscaping or buildings, they should aim to minimise energy and resource consumption and waste, and design in benefits to the local and global environment. Policies should seek to eliminate the use of peat and chemicals to control pests and as fertilisers. Horticultural and arboricultural decisions should reflect an understanding of the impacts of climate change.

  1. Managing Environmental Impact
  2. Waste Minimisation
  3. Chemical Use
  4. Peat Use
  5. Climate Change Adaption Strategies

Section 5: Biodiversity, Landscape and Heritage

Attention should be paid to the appropriate management and conservation of natural features, wildlife and flora; landscape features; and buildings and structures. Their particular character and requirements should be identified and appropriate management strategies put in place to conserve and enhance them.

  1. Management of Natural Features, Wild Fauna and Flora
  2. Conservation of Landscape Features
  3. Conservation of Buildings and Structures

Section 6: Community Involvement This section examines the extent to which the managing organisation:

+ understands the community it seeks to serve;

+ actively and appropriately involves members of the community in making decisions about the site’s development;

+ provides opportunities for active participation in site projects; and

+ ensures that there is appropriate provision of recreational facilities and activities for all sectors of the community

  1. Community Involvement in Management and Development
  2. Appropriate Provision for Community

Section 7: Marketing and Communication

This section seeks to examine the ways that managers understand the key benefits of the site and how they use this information to promote it appropriately. They should understand who the main user groups are, could be or should be, and use a fitting range of interpretation and engagement techniques to communicate with them. This basis ensures that appropriate facilities, events and activities can be offered and most effectively promoted, and forms a solid foundation for development now and in the future.

  1. Marketing and Promotion
  2. Appropriate Information Channels
  3. Appropriate Educational and Interpretational Information

Section 8: Management This section evaluates how well the management plan is implemented on site.

  1. Implementation of Management Plan

There’s more at:

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