Candidate – Bulgaria
Submission by: Municipality of Yambol
Project name: River Park – Yambol
The overall project objective is to improve the quality of the city environment by increasing the attractiveness of urban parks and open green spaces. Approximately 2.5 km. long Yambol River Park Project involves the development of the riverbed as a park site. The bed of the Tundzha River is turned into a public park including two new badminton courts, dog walking areas, water areas, etc. The aim of the nomination is to inspire more municipalities to rethink the way they use their Neglected open green spaces thereby improving the healthy lives of their citizens and at the same time creating green oases.
The green space improvement has helped to use this part of the river for walks, sports, pet walking, organizing a sports events like badminton, morning gymnastics. The project improvements increase publicly-accessible open spaces and landscaped areas. The National Morning Gymnastics Tournament “Yambol” and the “Sports with the President” initiative activities and events are being organized there every year. Over 700 students from all over Bulgaria took part in the second edition of the tournament. By implementation of this ambitious and innovative project and successfully transforming the riverbed of the Tundzha River into a usable and preferred park, we have proven and shown how the public importance of a neglected site can be increased.
River Park Yambol with an impressive area of over 700 decares is located along the Tundzha River, passing through the city center of Yambol. The transformation of the Тundzha‘s riverbed was carried out in several stages. The total cleared territory includes the area from the Retail Park Yambol to the city stadium. The site was covered with lush and diverse native vegetation, which was removed to develop multi-functional spaces for recreation, play and sport, outdoor community learning and growing. Biodiversity that inhabited the riverbed, all animal species have been preserved and have not been affected by human intervention.
Yambol Municipality has invested funds that have been spent economically. The river passing through the park supports the economical irrigation of the green areas. Funds have been invested, but volunteer work has been put in by local businesses and citizens, and has been achieved a good effect of the project. Public green infrastructure investment has an added effect that supports our connection with nature and improve human and environmental health and well-being, stimulates children to develop their sports skills and attracts citizens from other regions to visit the city and get ideas from the good example.
Trees planting mitigate the effects of climate change, cool outdoor temperatures, improve public health, foster biodiversity, improve citizen well-being, and create economic opportunities in their cities. The presence of trees and green areas lowers temperatures during hot summer days. The most suitable conifers that can grow near river and grass mixture for extensive maintenance were selected. To reduce the mosquito population, Yambol Municipality cleared existing wetland vegetation and created lawns, with appropriate grass mixtures containing English ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis),Red fescue (Festuca rubra) and Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). As part of a project, 200 new cypress trees (Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Pyramidalis’) were planted along the watercourse.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
Local residents and guests of the city use the park and post positive comments about it. Children actively use the space for meetings and sports. Young people promote the idea and share good practices with their friends from other settlements. We were convinced of the potential of the Yambol River Park, but we did not suspect about the hidden benefits of its implementation. In two years, we have turned from an uninviting, ugly and looking like a dump riverbed into over 2.5 km clean and welcoming with endless opportunities for sports and recreation linear park in the very heart of the city. The river Tundzha is the backbone of the city, and it is also a good example and pride for the citizens.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
The local producers of decorative plants, who are partners of the municipality in the implementation of the project, have recommended suitable grass mixtures and tree species. The sports equipment provided is of the highest class for this type of product.
The overall design
The project is considered with the overall vision for green spaces in the city. A landscape architect working in the municipality created the concept. In this way we have the opportunity to do our own designing instead of spending money to expensive architects. The concept is adapted to the existing terrain and it doesn’t affect the biological species living in this habitat.
The impact on the environment
As we have already said, the project reduces the adverse effects on the environment. It is also directly related to improving public health and quality of life by reducing pollution levels, carbon monoxide levels and reducing fine particulate matter.
Innovative value off the project
The very idea of the project is innovative, due to lack of practice and experience in Bulgaria to transform riverbeds as park spaces, a place for recreation and sports activities. We can use the project as an example for innovative way to create more urban green spaces. In addition to the many benefits achieved – both environmental, economic and social, we will continue to incorporate compromised and unusable terrains into Yambol’s quality green system.