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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 3 June 2021) . . Page.. 1733 ..

The national park city is a global concept that originated in England with a grassroots community-led initiative that, after six years, resulted in London becoming the world’s first national park city, in July 2019. Over 35 cities worldwide have now made a commitment to become a national park city. Adelaide is one of these, and it is on track to becoming the world’s second national park city, by the end of the year.

There are insights to be gained from Adelaide about how the national park city concept and associated principles might apply to the ACT. The national park city principles developed in Adelaide are now reflected in a universal charter for national park cities. The universal charter’s vision is “to make cities where people, places and nature are better connected”. It states:

A National Park City is a shared vision and journey for a better life. Everyone in a National Park City is able to benefit and contribute everyday.

It is a large-scale and long-term vision that is achievable through many actions.

The universal charter defines a national park city as follows:

It’s a place, a vision and a city-wide community that is acting together to make life better for people, wildlife and nature. A defining feature is the widespread commitment to act so people, culture and nature work together to provide a better foundation for life.

The aims are to have people work together for better lives, health and wellbeing; relationships with nature and with each other; wildlife, trees and flowers; places, habitats, air, water and land; locally grown food and responsible consumption; decisions, sharing, learning and working together; and time outdoors, culture, art, playing, walking, cycling and eating. It is clear to me that the vision and aspirations behind a national park city reflect those of the people of Canberra, past and present.

The Ngunnawal people, traditional custodians of the Canberra region, view the region as a cultural landscape derived from thousands of years of Aboriginal land management and embedded with the spirits and stories of their ancestors. Today, working on country gives Aboriginal people a sense of personal pride and affirms their identity through cultural belonging and connection to land. The ACT government acknowledges this connection and that being actively engaged in land management maintains this identity and has direct benefits for community health and wellbeing.

Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin’s plan for Canberra was inspired by the natural landscape, with the hills surrounding the city kept free of development and revegetated with native forests. This inspirational legacy is enshrined in the national capital open space system of mountains, bushlands, hills, ridges and river corridors set aside from development as areas reserved for nature conservation and for the enjoyment of visitors. Over 70 per cent of the area of the ACT is reserved for nature conservation and water catchment, and parks and open spaces within the urban footprint for sport, recreation and community activities.

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