the city and the green

The view to Central London from Sawyers Hill in Richmond Park

The view from Sawyers Hill in Richmond Park, through to central London.

The Shard, the cranes in the thundery morning of Thursday June 4th.

I was up in the park to meet a bird recorder and illustrator. Together we have been working on the Song Thrush ‘species action plan’ in Richmond Borough asking people to send in sightings, as well as gathering our own recordings of this red-listed species. As I headed down the hill to meet him to compare notes, I stopped to look through to London. It’s an amazing view.

To the city from Richmond Park 2

At this time of year, it’s thick dark green view. So many leaves. How many trees are between me and The Shard?

The houses, streets and people, birds and insects are beneath and in amongst this layer.

To the city from Richmond Park

Daniel Raven-Ellison’s visionary project to Make Greater London a National Park City makes real sense to me. Dan is a geographer and explorer, and he has set in motion an idea ‘to turn the capital into a new kind of national park, 250 years after the industrial revolution prompted the first wave of national park sites, protecting and celebrating the biodiversity of the city. It is at the forefront of a series of global campaigns on bringing nature back into the city‘. (Guardian, April 2015)

Recognised as one of the world’s most important urban habitats, green, blue and open spaces occupy over 60% of London. Over 1,300 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation cover 19% of the National Park*. Londonwide the capital is home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plants. More than 300 species of bird have been recorded in the city … Greater London is over 1,500 km2 and home to more than 8 million people‘.

It’s one of those ideas that brings things spinning into relation, giving coherence and value to the fragmented attention given to the green and blue networks and spaces in the capital, and gives agency to the growing forest school and wild education movements for outdoor play for children. It brings focus to the whole ecological sphere and species interactivity of this dense city.

It deserves and needs much attention and support. There is a crowdfunding campaign to get the project up and running. And on 3rd June, the London Assembly unanimously passed a motion to support the Greater London National Park City “in developing its vision, in particular by setting out how the Greater London Authority and the wider GLA Group could contribute towards its aims.”

Here’s a map generated by GIGL (Greenspace Information for Greater London) showing Greater London.


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