London National Park Campaign takes next step

The Thames Estuary Partnership has joined the Make London a National Park Campaign. Their latest e-newsletter says:

To make London the first city national park in the world might seem a bit silly until you stack up some of the facts.

Did you know that:

– there are 8.1million trees in London which is roughly one per person;

– two-thirds of London is open space;

– one-third of that is parks;

– one-third of that is private gardens;

– 10% of that is tube tracksides which are almost wild! These spaces are even expanding in some cases;

– The Thames is the largest continuous open space;

– This space is often under-invested/under protected /undervalued.

These spaces form an archipelago of habitats.

Biodiversity in London is often greater than in intensively-farmed (and pesticide sprayed) rural spaces.

There are 13,000 recorded species in London.

The stated aims of national parks are: protection-conservation /enjoyment/prospering economic enhancement.

Leading the charge is former geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison and he has very strong support from the GLA.

A weekend walk through London by Daniel using a webcam revealed a near continuous canopy of trees – except when crossing the larger parks or the Thames – but very few children.

Unstructured play is critically low. Only a quarter of the population regularly “use” nature, only a third of the population recognise a magpie, only one in 10 children plays in wild places.

– Some 80% of the happiest people in the UK acknowledge a strong connection to nature;

– London’s trees are of very many different species, some quite old and, themselves, fostering many micro-habitats;

– London is the greenest capital city in Europe because planning right back to Abercrombie in 1943 has been comparatively well-managed;

– The key document to ensure this continues is supposed to be the 2014 ‘London Infrastructure Plan 2050’. But not everything is go for a London National Park;

Remember that one-third of former gardens are now paved over – even in central London;

– London is now nearly as large as it ever was (it will soon reach the former population peak in 1940 of 8.5million);

– A further three million are projected to live here by 2020;

– Planning has massively changed in the last 10 years – can former wins be assured for the future?

– Poor air quality might be the biggest killer in London;

– London is the 15th most water-scarce city in the world.

So what would a London National Park mean to Londoners?

Daniel Raven-Ellison suggests:

– More protection and resources;

– More appreciation of what we already have;

– Better use of what already exists;

– Re-think a 21st Century Green Belt  with more public use and better access;

– wilderness need not be remote to promote well-being.

It all sounds very worthwhile but how do we bring enough people on board with the campaign to get government to listen?

Daniel wants the campaign to reach one in every eight Londoners. This month the organisers launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000. This money will be used to pay for a newspaper about the campaign and its distribution to between 50,000 and 100,000 people.

For more information contact:

Daniel Raven-Ellison Guerrilla Geographer National Geographic

Emerging Explorer Mobile: 07920 116 748 Twitter: @DanRavenEllison

Additional Material Re-imagine London –

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