Celebrating Landfill-to-Parks Around the World

In 2013, the United Nations proclaimed March 3rd World Wildlife Day to mark the signing of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES.  Signed on March 3, 1973, CITES is an international agreement intended to ensure that the international trade of plants and wild animals does not threaten their survival.  According to Cites.org, international wildlife trade is estimated at over a billion dollars and includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens.  Fortunately, not all wildlife species are endangered and CITES currently protects about 37,000 plant and animal species.

Efforts to protect natural (and endangered) habitats and species takes many forms, in some cases, conservationists protect existing species and habitats and in others, efforts are made to reclaim damaged land to create new habitats.  Some former landfill sites located in densely populated areas have provided unique opportunities to create new parkland and new habitats.  These amazing transformations are beneficial to local residents and tourists, and support biodiversity.  Freshkills Park, once the site of the world’s largest landfill is currently becoming a 2200-acre park.  Scheduled to be completed in 2036, the park is already home to a variety of bird species of interest, which include Osprey and Grasshopper Sparrows (both species of special concern in New York State, and most recently Sedge Wrens (a threatened species in New York State).

With landfill-to-park transformations going back several decades, the concept isn’t new, but each site has a unique history, ecosystem, and park services.  Check out this list of inspiring landfill-to-parks across time and the globe, from big to small, to projects here in New York;

Washington Park Arboretum- Seattle Japanese Garden | Learn More

© Seattle Japanese Garden

Formerly: Miller Street Dump

Operated as a Landfill: 1911-1936

Size: 62 Acres

Location: Seattle, Washington

Park Opened: 1960


Mount Trashmore | Learn More

© Virginia Beach

Formerly: Mount Trashmore landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1960’s-1971

Size:  165 Acres

Location:  Virginia Beach, Virginia

Park Opened: 1974


Cesar Chavez Park | Learn More

© Staeiou

Formerly: Berkeley Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1957- 1991

Size:  90 Acres

Location:  Berkeley, California

Park Opened: 1999


Tift Nature Preserve | Learn More

©Tift Nature Preserve

Formerly: Tift Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1950’s-1960’s (unofficial), 1970-1973 (official)

Size:  264 Acres

Location:  Buffalo, New York

Park Opened: 1976


Millennium Park | Learn More


Formerly: Gardener Street Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1954-1999

Size: 100 Acres

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Park Opened: 1999


Red Rock Canyon Open Space | Learn More

© Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Formerly: Gypsum Canyon Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1970-1987

Size:  53 Acres

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Park Opened: 2003


Sai Tso Wan Recreation Ground | Learn More

© LRT505

Formerly: Sai Tso Wan Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1978-1981

Size: 165 Acres

Location: Hong Kong, China

Park Opened: 2004


Thurrock Thameside Nature Park | Learn More

© Artexplorer434

Formerly: Mucking Marshes Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1960-2012

Size: 120 Acres

Location: Thameside, United Kingdom

Park Opened: 2013


Ariel Sharon Park | Learn More

© State of Israel

Formerly: Hiriya Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1952-1999

Size: 2000 acres

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Park Opened: 2014 (still in construction, opening in phases)


Tramore Valley Park | Learn more

© Kent Brink

Formerly: Kinsale Road Landfill

Operated as a Landfill: 1964-2009

Size: 160 Acres

Location: Cork, Ireland

Park Opened: 2015-2019 (In Phases)


Curious about exploring a landfill-to-park in New York City?

As Freshkills Park, continues to transform from the world’s largest landfill into a park, the Freshkills Park Alliance hosts guided tours and programs on site.  Stay informed about spring programming by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on social media.  In the meantime, check out other local New York City landfill-to-parks which include Flushing Meadows Corona  , Brookfield and Shirley Chisholm.

All of these amazing park transformations have given many species a place to flourish in the most densely populated cities.  Did you know New York City is situated in a biodiversity hotspot?  Learn more about biodiversity hotspots by clicking here.


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