Richmond Park embodies the rich mosaic of a mediæval deer park. Found within its boundary wall are grazing herds of deer, an ancient tree population with its browsed tree lines, rolling topography with its extensive grasslands and stands of bracken, waterbodies and boggy grounds as well as its buildings and artefacts which demarcate the changing patterns of use throughout the years. Despite its ‘pre’ history as an agricultural landscape and extensive periods of cultivation remnants of these have softened over time and fused into the many landscape layers resulting in a park character which is one of fluidity, informality, naturalness and wilderness.
Over 380 years of continuous parkland and deer park management has contributed to the ecological importance of Richmond Park. Its significance for nature conservation today is recognised by its notification as a European Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and its inclusion on the Nature Conservation Review (NCR) list, placing it amongst the top nature conservation sites in the country. It is also of international importance, since Britain possesses more and larger oak pasture woodland sites than any other country in Europe and as such Richmond Park is one of the premier sites for this habitat in Britain.
The requirement of the project was for The Royal Parks (TRP) to create a new Management Plan for Richmond Park, a 10-year plan with a 100-year vision.
The scope of the project was to design a simple document that would clearly identify issues, risks and opportunities, set a clear direction through priorities and projects and provide a clear rationale for the future investment of resources. The document needed to be engaging and present the current park issues and opportunities in a publicly accessible format and work as a prototype for future Management Plans.
Our philosophy was to tap into the wealth of knowledge within TRP and empower the people that currently manage Richmond Park by developing a collaborative process where they would be more likely to engage and, in the end, follow the recommendations and direction their Plan.
The role of TRP’s Landscape Management Officer was to guide, co-ordinate, design and write the Management Plan. They reviewed all available historic material and conducted additional research at the National Archives to bring records up to date. They facilitated several workshops which focused on formulating priorities and policies, with a collaborative vision. These workshops involved the park management team, internal specialists (ecologists, landscape architects, arboriculturalists) and specific external stakeholders. With the daily workings and demands faced by the Richmond Park management team (that welcome 7 million visitors annually) workshops had to be focused and their outcomes easily understood. In order to build and sustain commitment to the process the Landscape Management Officer worked hard to motivate and make clear that future-thinking is not an isolated activity but one integral to the park’s present context and their colleague’s daily working.
Historically the Management Plan was developed by external consultants which, in our experience, had little contact with staff. This meant that the knowledge, skills, ideas and aspirations of park management team was seemingly unrepresented. As a result, the Plan was viewed as an external document that did not have any investment from the people that managed the park – in the end it would gather dust on a shelf.
We have worked to develop a collaborative process which allowed for a space where every member could be involved, have their say and be heard. As a result, enthusiasm for change soared, discussion had increased and team spirit had grown. We believe that this collective effort has led to a sense of ownership, not only of the plan itself, but of this newly introduced process that has been developed. There has been an internal shift in the value placed in the Management Plans, transforming ways of working and rekindling moral in the park management teams.
We applied techniques of Landscape Character Assessment, regularly used for extensive landscape areas, and applied them to a park context to help us identify and understand the management challenges of each area. We developed a matrix that sets the significance of an area against an assessment of its condition as a tool to guide the restoration, conservation, creation and/or reinforcement action within each landscape character area. Finally, we began trialing a new methodology and process to generate and agree on future management priorities and policies that involved staff, stakeholders and the public. There are many challenges and issues affecting our designated landscapes – unprecedented visitor pressure, climate change and pests and diseases are key issues facing our parks, not to mention the need to positively influence public perceptions and behaviours. We believe that our unique Management Plans will help us achieve our charitable objects and, more widely, to effectively sustainably manage our estate.
Richmond Park Management Plan
Richmond Upon Thames, London
Research, documentation and publication
The Royal Parks
The Royal Parks
The requirement of the project was for The Royal Parks (TRP) to create a new Management Plan for Richmond Park, a 10-year plan with a 100-year vision. The scope of the project was to design a simple document that would clearly identify issues, risks and opportunities, set a clear direction through priorities and projects and provide a clear rationale for the future investment of resources. The document needed to be engaging and present the current park issues and opportunities in a publicly accessible format and work as a prototype for future Management Plans. Our philosophy was to tap into the wealth of knowledge within TRP and empower the people that currently manage Richmond Park by developing a collaborative process where they would be more likely to engage and, in the end, follow the recommendations and direction their Plan.
Finalist, Landscape Institute Awards 2019
Simon Richards - Park Manager Jane Pelly - Head of Landscape Alex Ioannou - Landscape Management Officer Adam Curtis - Assistant Park Manager Jo Scrivener - Assistant Park Manager Gillian Jonusas - Arboricultural Officer Alister Hayes - Head of Programmes, Volunteering & Conservation Samantha Wilkinson - Ecology Officer Claudia Watts - GiGL Royal Parks Officer