More Manchester green spaces are flying the Green Flag than ever before - and the city's total is higher than any other local authority area in England or Wales for the seventh year running.
Manchester now boasts 42 Green Flags, with three more parks - Whitworth Park in Moss Side, Birchfields Park in Rusholme and Vine Street Park in Gorton - attaining the status this year.
To be eligible for a Green Flag award, a park or green space must be welcoming, safe and well-maintained, with a strong involvement from the local community.
The award, administered by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, also certifies that the park or green space is clean and secure.
In addition to the outstanding total of 38 Green Flag parks, Blackley Cemetery and Crematorium has joined Southern Cemetery, Gorton Cemetery and Philips Park Cemetery in qualifying for the honour - meaning that all four of Manchester's cemeteries have now attained the highest accolade which can be earned by green spaces in England and Wales.
Blackley Cemetery opened in 1953, with its crematorium opening six years later. There are 23 different species of trees in its grounds, which include memorial gardens and a woodland burial area. The community-led Friends of Blackley Cemetery group actively works with Manchester City Council to make improvements to the site, while local schools have also helped by installing bird boxes and planting flowers.
Whitworth Park, an historic Edwardian park, was recognised thanks to the creation of an innovative new play space, plus new decorative flowerbeds, pathways and bio-diverse areas.
Birchfields Park has been rejuvenated by a new adventure play area, while the Friends of Birchfields Park group also designed and created a beautiful Forest Garden, a sustainable area full of edible fruits and plants.
Vine Street Park won the Green Flag at its first application for the status. The park has recently benefited from a new fruit orchard and wildflower meadow, plus a play space area and an archway entrance, designed by students from local schools.
All three parks were helped in their bid to meet the Green Flag criteria by the active support of long-standing volunteer 'Friends' groups, who have provided hands-on support and also helped Manchester City Council to plan improvements.
Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: "We are very proud that all four of our cemeteries are now officially recognised as high-quality, welcoming, community-focused green spaces - as are 38 of our parks.
"Without the hard work and commitment of Council staff and local volunteers right across the city, we would not be recognised as national leaders in this way. Thank you to everyone who has helped their local green space to attain Green Flag status."
FULL LIST OF GREEN FLAG AWARD WINNERS
Blackley Cemetery and Crematorium, Boggart Hole Clough, Crumpsall Park, Heaton Park, Plant Hill Park, Broadhurst Park
Gorton Cemetery, Clayton Vale, Philips Park, Philips Park Cemetery, St Michael's Flags and Angel Meadow, Openshaw Park, Vine Street Park, Debdale Park, Greenbank Park, Gaskell Street Park, Scotland Hall Road
Ardwick Green, Swinton Grove Park, Parsonage Gardens, Sackville Gardens, St John's Gardens, Hulme Park, Crowcroft Park, Whitworth Park, Birchfields Park
Southern Cemetery, Chorlton Park, Chorlton Water Park, Didsbury Park, Fletcher Moss Gardens, Marie Louise Gardens, Platt Fields Park, Cringle Park, Old Moat Park, Manley Park, Ladybarn Park
Baguley Park, Wythenshawe Park, Riverside Park Northenden, Culmere Park, Painswick Park