How much is invested in Scotland's parks?

Parks and open spaces provide a wide range of benefits for people and wildlife. Councils are normally responsible for the provision and maintenance of public greenspaces. However, as with other council services, over the last few years the amount of money spent on parks has fallen significantly. This infographic illustrates that current council investment in parks and open spaces is a tiny fraction of the overall available budget, accounting for just under ¾ of one percent of total expenditure in 2016/17.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

parks investment infographic


The infographic contains three squares that are to scale. The orange square represents the total expenditure of all councils in Scotland during 2016/17. The small dark grey square, just visible in the middle, represents the amount that councils invested in parks and greenspaces in proportion to total expenditure. The blue square at the bottom shows the estimated amount of additional benefits delivered by the investment in parks.

Decline of parks and greenspaces

In urban Scotland, 90% of people think that it is important to have greenspace close to where they live (greenspace scotland, 2017). However, the number of times people visit their local park has been in decline since 2011 and 40% of people think that the quality of their local greenspace has fallen in the last five years. The reduction in use and perception of parks is mirrored by a fall in their condition. In recent years, the proportion of parks in a good condition in Scotland has fallen by 10%, and the majority of parks managers expect the decline in quality to continue into the near future (Heritage Lottery Fund, 2016).

Investment in parks

In real terms, the amount of money councils spend on parks has fallen dramatically, by 26% since 2010/11. The decrease has been deeper than the reduction in the total amount of council expenditure, which fell by 15% over the same period (Local Government Benchmarking Framework, 2018).

Increasing the amount of investment that councils make is central to tackling the perceived and real decline of our public greenspaces. Council Tax across Scotland has risen by 3% in 2018, the first rise in a decade (BBC News, 2018). Increasing funding for parks in line with this rise would provide an additional £3.3 million, which equates to a modest 61 pence extra per person living in Scotland. This small increase would begin to halt the decline of our parks and could provide an additional £40 million in associated social, environmental and economic benefits.

Social return on investment in parks

Investing in parks provides a range of additional social, environmental and economic benefits. For example, spending on parks in Edinburgh was found to deliver extra benefits for: health and wellbeing; social inclusion; community capacity; local business; outdoor learning opportunities; and local environments. The impact of the extra benefits was assessed, and it was estimated that for every £1 invested in parks, £12 was generated in additional benefits (City of Edinburgh, 2015). Applying the Edinburgh figures to the amount spent on parks across Scotland suggests that the equivalent of £1.3 billion of additional benefits were delivered in 2016/17. The return on investment highlights the importance of managing and maintaining good quality parks as part of creating places where people want to live, work and visit.

Adequate investment in parks is critical in the provision and maintenance of our public greenspaces. The evidence suggests that councils need to reconsider the amount of funding allocated to these important community resources in order to maintain their quality and the benefits that they provide.


BBC News (2018). All Scottish councils to raise tax by 3%. 8 Mar 2018 -

City of Edinburgh Council (2015). The Value of City of Edinburgh Council’s Parks.

greenspace scotland (2017). Greenspace Use and Attitude Survey 2017.

Heritage Lottery Fund (2016). State of UK Public Parks.

Local Government Benchmarking Framework (2018). 2016/17 Raw Data.

This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.

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