Creating resilient and climate-ready communities depends on parks and recreation.
Park and recreation professionals are champions in addressing our most pressing environmental challenges; the parks and open spaces they manage maximize the benefits of nature to achieve positive and equitable health and economic impacts at the community level.
We must ensure all people benefit from parks and open spaces that are not only resilient and regenerative, but also transformative at the community level. Park and recreation professionals are one of the largest land managers in the nation and are key to climate change solutions.
Rising global temperatures are causing major physical, chemical and ecological changes for the planet. These changes, collectively referred to as climate change, are primarily driven by human activities that create excess amounts of greenhouse gas emissions in the air and is impacting our environment, health and economy. Park and recreation professionals, who serve nearly every community in the United States, are essential in combating the causes and impacts of climate change. They provide critical green spaces in communities that connect people to the outdoors and create healthy places that support the plants and animals that are beneficial to our environment.
As leaders in building community resilience, park and recreation professionals connect community members to environmental programming, ensure healthy ecosystems, advocate for the benefits of nature and implement sustainability practices. These efforts must focus on communities most impacted by poor environmental conditions and the effects of climate change, including people of color and people living in low-income communities, and invest in efforts that support holistic community resiliency.
NRPA commits to investing in and evaluating local solutions, building strategic partnerships, developing resources and best practices, advancing policy change, enhancing professional development opportunities, and lifting up stories that support the development of climate-ready parks and help park and recreation professionals realize their full potential as local innovators and champions in building resilient communities.
Building Community Resiliency Through Parks and Recreation
NRPA supports park and recreation professionals to build community resiliency. Below are a few examples of how we have supported community resiliency.
NRPA is equipping park and recreation professionals with the tools, knowledge and resources to plan, implement, maintain and advocate for green infrastructure projects within parks and across park systems. These projects address climate change impacts, provide social, environmental, economic and health benefits and advance equitable access to quality green spaces and parks.
Pollinators are vital to wildlife and ecosystem health and park and recreation departments are important stewards of natural resources and protectors of biodiversity throughout the nation. Through Parks for Pollinators, park agencies engage communities in saving pollinator species by building awareness and ecologically balanced habitat and connected to NRPA’s network of parks to pollinator resources.
Learn more about NRPA's other initiatives aimed at ensuring access for all, building resilient communities and improving health and well-being through parks and recreation.
Every day, in communities across the country, the people of parks and recreation are making their communities better places to live, work and play. We are building a nation-wide movement of support for their critical work and want you to join us.
NRPA’s Sustainability in Parks and Recreation report highlights how park and recreation professionals are working to make their agencies and their communities more sustainable through such actions as protecting natural habitat, embracing park infrastructure, managing stormwater effectively and lowering agency water usage.
NRPA created the Parks and Pollinators: Taking Action and Advancing Sustainability resource to help park and recreation professionals leverage their current efforts with native habitat and create plans that more effectively advance their work with native habitat and sustainability efforts. This resource offers a guided self-assessment, process to create a team, curated resources, sample policies and practices, and ways to engage your community and building awareness. These tools can create momentum for your current sustainability and biodiversity efforts and create a core team to advance this work in the future.
This framework offers tools and research-based information to measure the environmental, social, economic and health benefits of green infrastructure projects.
This guide provides basic principles, inspiration and ideas that can help planners, designers and decision-makers equitably integrate green infrastructure into parks and park systems across the country.
These resources provide park and recreation professionals with the tools and knowledge to advocate for green infrastructure in parks as a solution to improving climate-related health impacts.
This national report analyzes sustainability practices currently implemented by park and recreation agencies and the ways agencies are contributing to sustainability in their communities.
The Green Stormwater Infrastructure Certificate program provides park and recreation professionals the knowledge and tools to promote, oversee, advance and operate GSI in their park systems.
Wildlife Explorers is NRPA’s turn-key program that connects youth to nature by utilizing local park and recreation spaces to encourage nature discovery.
This national survey highlights green infrastructure projects at park systems, including issues surrounding funding, stakeholder engagement, and how to measure these investments’ long-term benefits.