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.
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.
The Mayor of London has 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 170,000 trees in three years 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.
Among the first large-scale green space improvement projects funded by the Mayor’s Green Capital grant scheme are Brent River Park: Greenford to Gurnell Greenway (in Ealing) which involved 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; and Headstone Manor Park (in Harrow) – including 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.
The Mayor has 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.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am proud to have helped London, one of the greenest world cities, be recognised as the world’s first National Park City. This status is a truly fantastic reflection of our vibrant and dynamic city and our amazing network of green spaces, rivers and natural habitats. We must do all we can to help tackle the global climate emergency and ecological crisis and address the decline in biodiversity. That is why I’ve delivered 200 green space improvements, planted over 170,000 trees, protected the greenbelt and ensured greening in all new developments.”