I was very pleased to be invited to the launch of the National Park City Foundation yesterday in London. The energy in the room was palpable, no doubt in some small part due to the passion shared by the front man in this initiative, Daniel Raven-Ellison whom I first met at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney in 2014. However it is also true to say that every individual there brought their own enthusiasm and expertise to the party. And quite a celebration it was. Backed by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (represented on the evening by the Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues), the event showcased the many talents of the Trustees of this new charity as well as the winners of a competition seeking new visionary ideas for implementation as part of the initiative, and some of these were simple but brilliant.
There were proposals for linking London’s green spaces by various better means of transport, better connectivity for wildlife and people, and practical help for individuals and families to explore and create new wild and green spaces in their own backyards and gardens. Design companies and universities from home and abroad came up with some great ideas which now need to move from the drawing board into community action with the support of the population of the capital. And now there is a map to help.
Now you can see where all the greenspaces are, where all the allotments and food growing areas thrive, which areas are managed by local authorities as ‘civic space’ and where the wild and watery places can be found for biodiversity. Great if strategic thinkers are trying to find out where to start with joining things up to create a great green network.
There were some clever and influential people there and I talked to Trustees Judy Ling Wong, Hon President of the Black Environment Network, Alison Barnes, CEO of the New Forest National Park, Prof Edward Truch of Lancaster University and also, from World Urban Parks, its Chief Executive, Dr Digby Whyte, and Vice Chair Alliances, Elisabeth Fournier. It was also a pleasure to meet again one of the pioneers of urban ecology in the UK and author of ‘The Nature of Cities’, Prof. David Goode. There are the beginnings of a network here that could take this to new levels of activity and I hope there will be opportunities for the IUCN to assist through its global reach, its national committee and its Members in the UK.
So watch out for progress with this exciting initiative. It is gaining lots of support and has set some ambitious targets. See more at #nationalparkcity www.nationalparkcity.london
Chris Mahon 3rd October 2017