The future of many humans living together in an efficient and harmonious way points towards sustainable cities, not only in resource consumption, but in the integration of the natural environment. The dichotomy between countryside and concrete jungle needs to change in our thinking. A good start is to look at existing green and open spaces within cities and see how these can be protected and developed further.
Daniel Raven-Ellison, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, with the support of many London organisations, is working hard to make such an idea a reality – for London to become a National Park City. This may at first sound slightly out of place, but consider that 47 % of London is a patchwork of green spaces, made up of 3.8 million gardens, 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, 300 farms, 1,300 sites of importance for nature conservation, 2 National Nature Reserves and 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites1. Most importantly, this includes 13,000 species of wildlife and more than 8 million trees.
While there is current investment in London’s green spaces and organisations which look at the individual parks and trees, the important difference is the concept of a city that integrates, nurtures and protects natural spaces as one, and brings them to the fore of people’s consciousness. This is a very important idea for the relationship between humans and nature, especially for those of us who live in city environments. As argued before on this blog, if there is to be a sustainable human future, our relationship with nature need to change.
Aims of the National Park City include:
- Connects London’s children with nature – this is key to building a new relationship, and it’s fun!
- Grow London’s green space from 47 % to 51 % by 2051 -this will benefit all species (yes, that includes us)
- Increase visits to outer London by 10 % by 2025 – there are many cultural gems
- Make Greater London a Green “World City” – this can then be replicated elsewhere
- Foster a new shared identity – adding this layer of identity to a multicultural city can help bring Londoners together, as well connect us with physical place.
Find out more at the Greater London National Park website.