How can you celebrate World Parks Day?

World Parks Day takes place on 20 September. The day presents the opportunity to put attention and efforts towards maintaining some of the world's best green spaces.

What is the impact of the day?

World Parks Day is a global event that encourages people to celebrate the rich and varied parks and green spaces that form an important part of landscapes. By raising awareness of parks in countries throughout the world, we can help to alleviate the damage that has been inflicted on some of the most beautiful spaces on the planet. 

These parks should be spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone, but are often filled with rubbish. World Parks Day provides an opportunity to recognise the important role these spaces have in the local eco-system and in the environment as a whole. 

Events such as these are especially important for Australia, which has several areas on the World Heritage List, which is a document made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) document detailing areas of outstanding natural beauty that must be protected. Without a healthy planet to support these vibrant green spaces, the Australian landscape would change dramatically, as well as experience the negative impact of environmental damage. Not to mention the likely indirect result of poorer business and tourist figures which depend on these national parks and other areas is likely to be a side effect of polluting these green spaces too.

What will happen after the event?

Following on from this year's World Park Day, the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress will take place in Sydney in November, highlighting the importance of looking after these areas. This event is held once a decade and sets the worldwide agenda for future years, showing how essential it is to create plans for both the short and long term in this vital global issue. The Congress has decided upon three priorities to focus on – parks is the first. The discussions about parks will centre on issues including maintaining biodiversity and encouraging a healthy ecosystem. Policy and action plans will also be central to the event's vision.

The other two priorities are people and the planet, aiming to create sustainable governance and natural solutions to the problems facing parks and green spaces around the world. Together, it is hoped these focuses will help to raise awareness of and ultimately create positive changes in attitudes to parks and the natural world in general.

How can you get involved?

As the Congress highlights, people can be crucial to protecting parks and the planet. There are several ways that you can get involved in World Parks Day and the sustainable living that it promotes both on September 20 as well as beyond. Green spaces are meant to be enjoyed, however they can often be polluted by plastic and other harmful materials that are left behind after picnics and other gatherings. Instead, use reusable sandwich wraps to store your food in, so you can use them time and time again and make sure you take all your possessions – including the leftovers – with you when you leave. 

If your local park has a cafe, bring your own reusable coffee cups to hold your hot beverages in – perfect for a pick-me-up after your morning run, or as a hit of caffeine on your way to work. As well as this, incorporating eco-friendly products into as many areas of your life as possible is another way to do your bit for the environment, which will help parks and green spaces to thrive in the long-run as well. If individuals make small changes, inspired by events such as World Parks Day, then together we can help to protect our local green spaces as well as the planet.