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Start your National Park City journey

National Park Cities are long-term grassroots movements. They rely on broad based support from all sectors of the community, local government, charities, institutions, businesses and individual citizens – a shared story, and a collective endeavour that takes into account the whole place.

The journey to become a National Park City begins with a first step. And often that means a group of people coming together to ask ‘What if?’ our city was to become a National Park City. We’ve set out the steps you need to take in our Journey Book, which if you’re reading this page we would hope you would already be familiar with.

Whatever stage you are at we’re delighted that you are considering joining the National Park City Family. Whether you plan for your urban area to join the National Park City Family or for it to become an official National Park City, you have come to the right place.

The journey to becoming a National Park City can take a number of months or even years. The important thing is that you take things step by step, and when you’re ready to submit your application you can do so here.

Three types of national Park Cities

Emerging National Park Cities

Emerging campaigns are those that have gathered at least 200 signatures of the Universal Charter for National Park Cities and have registered their campaign with the National Park City Foundation. 

Nominated National Park Cities

Nominated cities have demonstrated that they have an active campaign feel confident that they are working towards submitting a full application, at which point they may be recognised as a Nominated National Park City.

Established National Park Cities

Established cities have submitted their portfolio of evidence and have successfully been through the full approved application process, and have subsequently been fully recognised as an Established National Park City.

Register to become an Emerging National Park City

Anyone can register and lead a campaign for their urban area to join the National Park City Family or become a recognised National Park City. You could be an individual or group. You don’t need to have any special experience or expertise and can come from any background.

To formally register you’ll need to find at least 200 people in your urban area that agree it has the potential to become a successful member of the National Park City Family. These people should have a wide range of backgrounds and interests, and come from many different places in your urban area. This will demonstrate your commitment to the process, help you explore if the idea will be well received in your area and tell us something about the nature of your urban area.

To register your campaign:

  1. Collect the names of 200 people who support your National Park City initiative
  2. Ask the 200 people to sign the Universal Charter for National Park Cities
  3. Complete the short registration form here

Once you’ve done this you’re ready to explore the potential of becoming a National Park City. You’ll be ready to start work on recruiting support to grow your community, taking action and collecting the evidence you’ll need for your portfolio and application.

This is the beginning of a rewarding and ongoing journey that will become part of your urban area’s future. Even when your National Park City is established, your exploration and understanding will evolve, develop and deepen.

Becoming a Nominated National Park City

Once you have registered as an Emerging National Park City you will be invited to our monthly calls which alternate between 8am and 5pm GMT to provide as much time-zone coverage as we can (we want the National Park City movement to be as international as possible!)

You’ll benefit from the support of others like yourselves who are actively building up and progressing your campaign and beginning to work through the 10 steps in the Journey Book.

Over time when you have demonstrated that you have an active campaign and we all feel confident that you are working towards submitting a full application you may be recognised as a Nominated National Park City.

You’ll be well on the way to gathering your creative portfolio. You may have completed or be in the process of collaboratively agreeing the Charter for your National Park City. You’ll certainly be making progress in recruiting people to your campaign, and will have begun to connect the grassroots, with local government and other stakeholders and supporters.

Recognition as a Nominated National Park City is done on a case-by-case basis which takes into account the starting point and context relevant to that city. The decision is made collaboratively with each city, your peers in other campaigns, and with the support of the National Park City Foundation, World Urban Parks, and Salzburg Global Seminar.

Their are currently five Nominated National Park Cities; Breda and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Glasgow and Southampton in the UK, and Chattanooga in the USA.

Becoming an Established National Park City

The decision to progress to becoming a full National Park City is an exciting step for each campaign to take, in joining London and Adelaide as the first two National Park Cities.

Becoming a National Park City is not an award or accolade, rather it’s a shared commitment to improve the connection between people and nature in your city, and to embark on a long-term commitment to make the place you live greener, healthier and wilder.

To become a member of the National Park City Family or an internationally recognised National Park City, you’ll need to submit a portfolio application.

This will be assessed by our assessors and peer reviewers. These will be a mixture of experts from other National Park Cities, the National Park City Foundation, World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar. Our peer assessors want to see that your urban area is ready and that your initiative is a suitable place and is visionary, inclusive, supported and capable.

Your portfolio application should be creative, public friendly and must demonstrate that your city is ready to become a member of the National Park City Family or an internationally recognised National Park City. It must demonstrate how you meet or are working towards each of the 23 criteria that are set out in the Journey Book.

We recommend that you communicate with us as you progress through your National Park City journey and the development of your application. Doing so will create space for us to feedback, collaborate and avoid going in the wrong direction or any surprises.

Once your portfolio application we’ll work with you on a plan for your application and assessment. There are five steps to the assessment:

Stage 1: Portfolio Submission

Submit your application portfolio ahead of the next published deadline.

Stage 2: Desk review

We’ll complete a desk review of your application to make sure we have everything we need.

Stage 3: Peer Review

Peers from established and emerging National Park Cities, as well as experts from the National Park City Foundation, World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar will review your application. If it’s approved, we’ll move you to the next step. If not, we might ask you for more evidence or activity.

Stage 4: Peer Visit

Peers from established and emerging National Park Cities will visit and explore your urban area. They will verify your evidence, collect their own, and make sure your potential National Park City shares the values, goals and spirit of the wider movement. Our aim is for peers to make a recommendation by the end of this visit.

Stage 5: Invitation

If successful, your campaign will be formally invited to join the National Park City Family and, if appropriate, become a recognised National Park City.

Fees and Submission Deadlines

We charge a fee for the application process to cover our costs. We’ll discuss this with you when the time to submit approaches.

This includes the desk and peer review and the peer visit, as well as administration costs. Travel expenses make up a big part of this, so the final fee will depend on where your city is. If necessary, the National Park City Foundation will work with you to secure funding to cover costs.

We are currently working directly with our five Nominated National Park Cities to schedule their progress towards a full assessment in 2024 and 2025.

We will normally accept submission to become a National Park City twice a year on 1st May and 1st October each year.

Please join us on our National Park Cities community to meet other people representing cities on the journey to becoming National Park Cities.

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