London has become the first capital city in the world to be awarded the status of a National Park City in recognition of the capital’s open spaces, waterways and natural environment.
image: London.Gov website
The declaration [was] made by the National Park City Foundation, the charity established by the original National Park City campaign group and led by environmentalist Daniel Raven-Ellison and World Urban Parks, an international organisation championing urban parks. It [took] place at a special summit hosted by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan on Monday 22nd July.
To celebrate and mark this achievement the Mayor [launched] a week of 300 free ‘National Park City Festival’ events across London’s green spaces, wildlife habitats, green rooftops and waterways. The Mayor committed as part of his manifesto to help London become a National Park City and has prioritised protecting and enhancing the green belt, increasing and maintaining green spaces and tree canopy and making more than half of the capital green. Sadiq has updated the London Plan to require ‘greening’ in new developments through an Urban Greening Factor as well as continuing to protect the green belt.
Sadiq has already helped fund the planting of a record 170,000 trees in just three years – more than under the previous Mayor’s two administrations – and 200 green space improvement projects stretching over 175 hectares. The Mayor’s team also developed pioneering high-tech mapping of London’s green cover to identify the extent of London’s greening and help monitor improvements to ensure Sadiq’s targets remain on track.
Sadiq [launched] the celebrations on Saturday 20th July by officially opening London’s newest swimming lake at Beckenham Place Park, the first large-scale green space improvement project funded by his Green Capital grant scheme. Other larger scale projects funded by the Mayor’s scheme include:
- Ripple Nature Reserve and Greenway (Barking and Dagenham) – a 23km walking and cycling route creating safe routes to school and access to the nature reserve for local residents.
- Brent River Park: Greenford to Gurnell Greenway (Ealing) – transforming 18 hectares of underused and disconnected green space, opening up routes and views along the river and improving biodiversity with new reed beds, wetlands, meadows, woodland and orchards
- Headstone Manor Park (Harrow) – helping to preserve the quality of the 14th century moat – a focal point in the park. Creating new wetlands, pond dipping and outdoor learning opportunities.
At the summit, the Mayor [co-signed] the London National Park City Charter developed by the Foundation, which sets out key actions to make London a city where people, places and nature are better connected and matches the long term goals in the Mayor’s Environment Strategy. Other cities in the UK and across the world will be encouraged to follow London’s lead in becoming a National Park City. The summit [was] attended by a range of international environmental organisations, social enterprises and community groups, demonstrating how grassroots action is making the city greener, healthier and wilder. Speakers will include supporters such as Action for Conservation and Parkour Generations, plus Natural England, the International Union for Nature Conservation (Urban Alliance), ICLEI and World Urban Parks who will endorse London’s status.
By signing the charter, the Mayor is confirming he shares the collective ambition, responsibility and commitment to deliver on making London:
- a city which is greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected
- a city which protects its core network of parks and green spaces and where buildings and public spaces aren’t defined only by stone, brick, concrete, glass and steel
- a city that is rich with wildlife
- a city where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors
- a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle
Ahead of the declaration the Mayor [launched] the National Park City Festival this weekend, working with the National Park City Foundation and partners including the National Theatre and London Wildlife Trust, on events highlighting the importance, beauty and breadth of London’s green spaces and encouraging Londoners to get out and discover the green spaces on their doorstep. National Park City Festival events [were] all free to attend and highlights include outdoor theatre performances of The Gruffalo, a ‘Pedal-Powered Party’ with live DJs Supa Dupa Fly and Night Czar, Amy Lamé, and a unique audio installation in Epping Forest. A full programme of events is available at www.london.gov.uk/national-park-city….