London: The World’s first National Park city.
Sounds crazy, right? When we think of National Parks in the UK we think of wide open green spaces, lots of trees, lots of nature, certainly not the UK capital. But bear with me, it actually makes more sense than you might think.
The Greater London National Park City Initiative advocates for just that. In a city that is home to 8.6 million people, there over 8.3 million trees and over 13,000 species that also call it home. The city’s many parks and outdoor green spaces, the Thames river and many smaller rivers that also flow through London provide large spaces for outdoor recreation, education, events, and many many more social benefits to the public. The extended green open spaces also allow nature to thrive in an urban city environment, no different to how it would in the UK’s traditional National Parks.
Public health would also improve. There are areas of London where air pollution is a real problem, but many of the parks and green areas provide natural spaces with cleaner air. It is estimated that air pollution costs the UK around £20 billion every year. Spending that much money on just one environmental problem suggests that it is a major issue for London. However, the 8.3 million trees in London deliver over £95 million of air filtration services, and it’s all natural!
According to Natural England, a National Park must be a landscape that is an ‘extensive tract of country’. The designation is granted because of it’s natural beauty and the opportunities it affords for open air recreation with wildlife, cultural heritage, and opportunities to promote the understanding and enjoyment of an area’s special qualities to the public all being taken into account (Greater London National Park City).
Doesn’t London go someway to fulfilling much of that criteria?
The idea of a city being a National Park is certainly an interesting concept. It goes against what we traditionally think of as a National Park but is it really that different. There are still a number of environmental issues London must address, however the benefits of making London the world’s first National Park could go someway to alleviating those environmental impacts.
The Youtube video below was created by the Greater London National Park City Initiative and gives a number of very good reasons as to why London should be the world’s first National Park City.