Report: Parks & Recreation Helps Improve Sustainability

Some 10,000 park and recreation agencies across the country have the potential to create community-wide sustainability measures that can improve the environment while promoting human and ecosystem health and cost savings. This, according to a new report from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) highlighting the activities and programs that park and recreation agencies can provide to create more sustainable and resilient communities.

NRPA’s “Sustainability in Parks and Recreation” report highlights sustainability goals and practices, financial and political support for these efforts, and the challenges and barriers that stand in the way of success for sustainability efforts.  

Among the findings from the report, which is based on responses from nearly 200 park and recreation agencies:

  • Park and recreation leaders place high importance on strategies that protect the natural habitat, embrace park infrastructure for stormwater management and lower agency water usage.
  • 43% of park and recreation agencies operate under a formal sustainability plan.
  • Park and recreation agency sustainability plans typically focus on protecting the natural habitat, reducing and eliminating the use of carbon-based energy, reducing landfill waste, using park infrastructure for stormwater management and reducing water usage.
  • The most common sustainability actions are planting trees, transitioning to native and climate-adaptable plants and trees, and updating and retrofitting buildings and other park infrastructure.

“Implementation of sustainable practices is of utmost importance locally and worldwide,” said Kevin Roth, NRPA vice president of research, evaluation and technology. “Through their leadership and collaboration with other local public and private partners, park and recreation professionals play a vital role in promoting sustainable communities.”

To access the report, visit