Could London Become a National Park?

In a bid to change the City’s reputation as a highly polluted area, the London National Park City organization and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan are launching a massive project to turn the whole city into a national park.

The UK currently has around 15 national parks that are all quite different from one another, spanning forests to moorlands, marshlands and more.  These areas are all critical for ensuring that our wildlife continue to flourish, but the protected status of these regions, and the resulting principles of growing and maintaining their ecology has had people wondering: what if we applied those principles to city life?

That’s exactly what this new scheme aims to do.

The project is the passion of former geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison who tells Positive News, that he started the London National Park City scheme after visiting the UK’s national parks with his son.

“Already 47 per cent of the city is physically green because of our parks and gardens, and 2.5 per cent is blue because of our waterways,” Raven-Ellison said. “We only need 0.5 per cent more green space to ensure that half of London is either green or blue.”

To be clear, the project doesn’t aim to get London designated as a National Park. That’s both logistically and financially unworkable.

What the project does want to cultivate, though, is bringing many of the same ideas that underpin national parks to city life, thereby improving the lives of citizens and, also, cleaning up London’s environment to help the city’s wildlife.

The following video helps explain the many benefits this might have, including creating a healthier environment for London’s nine million residents:

Setting out the Aims of London as a National Park City

The project, which aims to turn London into a National Park City by 2019, has a handful of broad aims that are laid out on the Mayor of London’s website:

  1. The project aims to better connect people with nature and generally increase the amount of greenery in London.
  2. The project will specifically aim at protecting what are described as London’s “core network of parks and green spaces” and, where possible, to further integrate greenery into the local architecture.
  3. The plan is to ensure the city is rich in diverse wildlife so that children in particular can interact with nature and learn while outdoors. Education in outdoor settings is seen as a key pathway toward fighting childhood health problems like obesity.
  4. The project aims to create a city with “high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle”.

How can London achieve these aims?

Some of the aims could be tackled by “greening” current spaces. For example, installing what are known as “green” or living roofs that have plants growing on them.

Other relatively easy solutions include, where convenient and safe, swapping out things like concrete paving for other solutions like grass. This won’t work for sidewalks but could be ideal in local gardens and other areas.

In terms of policy and how the city’s officials can help this scheme, the Mayor and local councils have committed to several steps. These include changing policy to make green space protection a priority, as well as finding ways to introduce greenery into urban landscapes (urban greening).

They also want to use the Greener City Fund to encourage local groups to take charge of their communities and improve greenery by, for example, planting more trees and reducing litter.

Green infrastructure, which includes buildings that integrate with local habitats in some way, will also be promoted through this scheme.

A Wildflower for Everyone in London

London certainly seems to be getting off to a good start with this project. It has just announced a partnership with the social enterprise group Seedball which packages wildflower seeds in seed bombs to make urban planting a breeze.

The aim of the partnership, dubbed the #WildflowersForLondoners campaign, is to plant nine million wildflowers, approximately one for every person who lives in the city.

These seeds could be planted on patios, in window boxes, or even in small (secure) pots on a garden wall — anywhere that could benefit with a pop of color. Not only would this dramatically improve London’s visual appeal, it could also be a big boost for London’s bees and other insects that love colorful flowers,  for example butterflies.

This is just one of the exciting ways in which London could drastically improve its cityscape. And who knows, maybe other cities will now follow?

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

48 comments

KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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KimJ ManyIssues
KimJ M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

How lucky for Londoners. Where I live people pollute, know nothing about noise pollution and leave their engines running while they shop, throw garbage in the lakes and waterways and around town - they are completely out-of-touch with their environment and even take every opportunity to chop down trees.

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Louise R
Louise Rabout a month ago

Excellent. Make it happen, London.

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Kate G
Kate Gabout a month ago

this sounds lovely

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Jaime J
Jaime Jabout a month ago

Thank you!!

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Pat P
Pat Pabout a month ago

Sounds great, if it succeeds! Its too bad that, in the U.S. the attitude toward the environment and wildlife is just the opposite, with the present Administration. With Trump's input, Pruitt's EPA and Zinke's Dept of Interior want to ruin the National Parks. Major supporters of the Fossil Fuel Industry, they want to sell off monument lands, parcels of parks and allow drilling in all of these areas, along with all of our waters. They, originally, attempted to raise part entrance fees (3X), unsuccessfully, to deter affordability for American citizens! Of course, Trump et al, don't support climate change, pulled out of Paris and don't care about clean energy, or decent standards of clean air, soil and water--or car emissions. In addition, they are supporters of Monsanto, Dow, etc. and toxic chemicals (many used in widespread fracking, anonymously!

Many things could be done to improve the quality of the lives of ALL citizens. Gardens are a wonderful asset to ANY country--as long as they are well-planned (practical, as well as beautiful), not a major drain on tax-payers, don't abuse pesticides and are not wasteful of natural resources. Some of the expressed ideas could be beneficial, although grass can be expensive and time-consuming for upkeep--hopefully, it won't be sprayed with chemicals! Attracting butterflies, bees, and bats is good thinking, especially, on rooftop space. Reducing pollution should be a #1

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