London becomes world’s first 'National Park City'
London has today been declared the world’s first 'National Park City' in recognition of its open spaces, waterways and natural environment.
The announcement was made by the National Park City Foundation at a summit hosted by mayor Sadiq Khan, who signed a charter confirming the city’s new status.
He also outlined a range of fresh environmental commitments after launching a week of 300 free ‘National Park City Festival’ events across London’s green spaces, wildlife habitats, green rooftops and waterways.
This comes after a record 170,000 trees were planted in the capital over the last three years, along with 200 green space improvement projects stretching over 175 hectares.
It is hoped that other cities in the UK and across the world will follow London’s lead and look to become a National Park City too.
Khan said: “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.”
The charter outlines how London will strive to become a greener city than it already is today, and a place where people and nature are better connected.
There is also a commitment to protect the city’s core network of parks and green spaces, boost wildlife, improve air and water quality, and encourage walking and cycling.
This comes two days after Khan officially opened London’s newest swimming lake at Beckenham Place Park – the first large-scale green space improvement project funded by City Hall’s Green Capital grant scheme.
A 23km walking and cycling route with access to a nature reserve between Barking and Dagenham, and the preservation of a 14th century moat in Harrow, are among other large-scale projects that have been funded by the scheme.
Environmentalist Daniel Raven-Ellison, who leads the National Park City Foundation and started campaigning for London's new status six years ago, said: “Becoming a National Park City is something for us all to be proud of.
“It’s about lifting our ambitions, going further to make the city greener, healthier and wilder, improving our mental health, cleaning our air, making the city richer in wildlife, freeing children to play and meet friends outdoors again, tackling the climate crisis and bringing more joy to the city."
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM