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London becomes the world’s first National Park City, here’s everything you need to know

What exactly does the capital's new status mean?

Sarah Young
Monday 22 July 2019 15:38 BST
What will buyers in the capital get for their money now?
What will buyers in the capital get for their money now? (Getty)

When you think of a national park, images of sweeping landscapes and rolling hills likely spring to mind.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that the UK’s capital has officially been crowned as the world’s first National Park City.

On Monday, London shunned its reputation as a smog-filled metropolis to become the first city to sign up to the International Charter for National Park Cities (NPC).

Launched by the National Park City Foundation (NPCF), in partnership with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar, the initiative aims to name at least 25 National Park Cities by 2025 and is already in discussion with other UK and world cities to help them gain NPC status.

What is a National Park City?

The National Park City initiative has been designed to help improve life in cities by working with residents, visitors and partners to enjoy the outdoors more and make the city greener, healthier and wilder.

Having successfully campaigned to make London a NPC, the NPCF is bringing the idea to life by leading a series of inspiring campaigns and supporting and coordinating action, starting with the launch of Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London's, National Park City Festival, which runs 20 – 28 July.

Why is London a National Park City?

While London might not seem like the most obvious candidate given that it is a city of nine million – with 14,000 residents per square mile – it is worthy of its new national park status.

According to mapping company Esri, Greater London’s public green space covers 16.8 per cent of the city, while there are also an estimated eight million trees in the city.

This is in comparison to other major cities such as Paris which, according to Treepedia – a site that shows the density of greenery in cities around the world, has a green view index (GVI) of just 8.8 per cent.

Environmental records centre, Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL), adds that nearly 15,000 species of wildlife also live in the capital, including eight species of bats, the largest population of stag beetles in England, and hundreds of bird species.

What is London doing to become more eco-friendly?

The announcement follows the news that Khan has set a goal of turning London 50 per cent green by 2050, including private areas such as back gardens.

The pledge also aims to make London’s transport system zero emission with all taxis and minicabs to be non-polluting by 233.

Under the plans, all new road vehicles driven in inner London will also need to be zero emission by 2040.

“This strategy sets out my plans to clean up our filthy air with bold new air quality measures, tackle waste and promote cleaner energy so we can make London a healthier city that adapts to the impacts of climate change,” Khan said at the time.

“We must also protect, improve and add to our outstanding green spaces as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.

“By continuing to invest in our environment and work with boroughs and communities, we can improve the health and wellbeing of everyone living in London.”

What other places might become National Park Cities?

According to National Geographic, Newcastle upon Tyne will also be launching a campaign to become the United Kingdom’s next National Park City, while Glasgow. and Scotland are already working on being included in the initiative.

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