Theme 7: Green Infrastructure, Open Space, Recreation and Natural Heritage


Green and blue infrastructure plays an essential role in creating a more healthy and liveable city. Green infrastructure refers to our green spaces including parks, gardens, open amenity space, cemeteries and woodlands. Blue infrastructure refers to waterways and water bodies such as rivers, canals and Dublin Bay. These natural assets provide a platform for community activities, social interaction, recreation and physical activity, providing sustainable drainage solutions, facilitating biodiversity and wildlife habitats, carbon capture and creating connectivity.

The City has the benefit of many natural assets including over 200 public parks forming 17% of the land area of Dublin City. Green and blue infrastructure alongside playgrounds and sports facilities provide residents, businesses and visitors with important social, physical and environmental benefits. The current limitations and social distancing requirements brought about as a result of COVID-19 have further highlighted the continuing need for the provision and access to these assets in our urban areas. 

Natural heritage is defined by UNESCO as referring to natural features, geological and physiographical formations and delineated areas that constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants and natural sites of value from the point of view of science, conservation and natural beauty. The role of geoheritage as a natural asset is also valuable with a number of audited geological heritage sites of relevance in the City. Dublin City Council plays a role in fostering an understanding and appreciation of the City’s natural heritage assets by ensuring appropriate protection, whilst also facilitating the enjoyment of our natural heritage through the development of appropriate access arrangements and recreational provision.

Background and Context

The continued improvement and protection of Dublin’s outdoor spaces remains a priority for Dublin City Council. The first Dublin City Parks Strategy was published in 2019 setting out the services and resources of Parks and Landscape Services together with their associated policies and intended actions under the vision of ‘growing towards a greener and more liveable City’.

There have been significant achievements in the City in terms of green infrastructure and recreational amenities. Notable examples include the Greening Strategy for the Liberties which culminated in the opening of Weaver Park on Cork Street in 2017. Outdoor gym equipment has been installed in a number of parks including Poppintree Park, Ellenfield Park, Martin Savage Park, Griffith Park and Sandymount Promenade.

The City Council is committed to improving its services and facilities in accordance with its responsibilities under the Disability Act and a free beach wheelchair service has been introduced on Dollymount Strand on North Bull Island.

The City Council recognises that the development of greenways provide a means of sustainable and active travel whilst also giving people access to nature and outdoor recreation. Phase 2 of the Royal Canal Greenway was completed in July 2020. The Santry River Greenway Project is being progressed as part of a URDF funded project to restore the river to a more natural state whilst making provision for active travel.

Key Issues

The need to protect the existing green and blue infrastructure network from fragmentation and loss due to pressures of urban development remains an ongoing challenge. There is also a need to consider how areas where there is a deficit of amenities can be better served and how retrofitting green infrastructure into the urban environment can be achieved. There are opportunities to explore how unexploited areas can contribute further to the green infrastructure network of the City such as riparian corridors along our urban waterways.

Open space and recreational amenities are also key to the development of active and sustainable residential communities and is essential to successful place making. The Council has an intrinsic role in ensuring that new development is planned and designed appropriately to ensure high quality amenity space. The potential of such open space/ green infrastructure in contributing to climate action through carbon capture, enhancing biodiversity, sustainable water management and flood resilience must also be fully realised. In achieving compact growth there must be an appropriate balance of adequate multi-functional open space and recreational amenities to serve an expanding population.

The opportunity also exists to recognise and promote the value of ecosystem services that our natural assets provide to the City whilst increasing awareness of biodiversity and environmental designations in the City. There are also opportunities to enhance connections and permeability between the green infrastructure assets of the City and to enhance access to such amenities.

There is a continuing need to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Dublin through the provision, maintenance and promotion of sporting, play and recreation facilities at neighbourhood level. This need is more acute in the inner City, between the canals, particularly with regard to community open space and public recreational resources.

Green Infrastructure, Open Space, Recreation and Natural Heritage – Some Key Questions

1 How do we ensure that all our citizens get the best from our green and blue infrastructure whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues to play a prominent part in our lives?
2  How do we promote the health, environment and heritage benefits of green and blue infrastructure?
3  What development standards should be introduced to assist in the promotion and delivery of green and blue infrastructure?
4  How do we integrate green solutions within compact urban development?
5  How do we manage our natural assets as the population of Dublin City continues to grow? 6 How should the City facilitate the growing needs for sporting and recreational uses?

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