What if London became a National Park?
Covering up to 7% of the UK, urban areas are recognised by Natural England as a distinct habitat, and by that definition London is truly remarkable. The population of 8.3m shares the city with 13,000 species of wildlife that inhabit the conurbation’s 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, two national nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest and 142 local nature reserves.
A massive 47% of London is green space, making it one of the greenest cities in the world for its size. It is home to the world’s largest urban forest and its 3.8m gardens cover 24% of the capital.
The statutory purpose of national park status is to “conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area” and “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the park by the public.” What if we took these ideas and applied them to London?
Join us for a day of inspirational presentations, engaging panel discussions and a conversation that could lead to London becoming the world’s first National Park City, a new kind of national park.
Full programme to be announced.
Are you a geography educator, geographer or geography fanatic? Do you think a good geography education is of vital importance for young people?
Let’s unite and work together to connected, share, amplify and celebrate geography.
Join this Thunderclap and use #TeamGeography on Twitter to:
>> Connect with others and build your network. Add #TeamGeography to your Twitter profile and let’s follow each other.
>> Share ideas, projects, best practice and stories.
>> Amplify messages for each other. If someone posts a request that includes #TeamGeography let’s help them make some noise.
>> Celebrate geography, geography education and geographers.
Please help to spread the word by joining this Thunderclap. Let’s see how many people we can reach!
How high can you climb by using stairs in your house, school or neighbourhood? Can you step up to the height of a mountain?
Using Ordnance Survey’s new Step Up Mountain calculator mapping tool you can plug in the number of steps you have climbed to see the buildings or mountains you have climbed the equivalent height of.
This is a great activity for children to develop their sense of place and scale. It is also an opportunity to think about geographic information and how it can be applied in different settings.
While some young people may want to ascend 2,000 or more feet in one solo and single journey, they could think creatively about how they will accumulate steps up. They could collect steps by working collaboratively, over an extended period of time or even by counting how many times they use a specific staircase in a day and then estimating how high they will climb over one, two or five years.
This mapping tool is inspired by a walk that I am doing in September to walk the height of Mount Everest (29,029ft) by only using stairs in London buildings. My walk starts on September 8th and will last around 10 days. The main challenge in the walk is gaining access to the city’s buildings, many of which have high security. I am making 10 days available to do the walk so that I can persuade enough people to let me in.
If you are a teacher, please do consider running a Step Up Mountain Challenge activity during September. It would be great to have you involved. You can contact me on Twitter @DanRavenEllison and we will be tweeting on #StepUpMountain.
The RSA Northbank Good Business Challenge is looking for ideas to to make the Northbank business district of London (Trafalgar Sq, Strand/Embankment and Aldwych) a more vibrant, experimental area for sustainable living and business.
In response to the challenge I have posted an idea for a Greater London National Park Centre. Re-blogged from the Greater London National Park* website, this post describes the idea.
Please do take a moment to vote for the idea.
The Garden Bridge is an exciting development for London. Conceived by Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the £150 million footbridge will connect Southbank to Northbank across the River Thames and feature plants, trees, woodland and meandering walkways. The bridge will be a beautiful and iconic contribution to London’s landscape that millions of people will enjoy, but what will it mean to Londoners and visitors alike?
The bridge does more than bring together two sides of a city split in half by a mighty river, it brings together London’s life and the built environment in a radical way. Earlier this week I attended the London Parks & Gardens Trust’s 20th anniversary symposium on London’s Green Future. At the event we heard from Arup’s Tom Armour, Director of Landscape Architecture, who described in detail how the bridge is being planned. Instead of designing the bridge first and then working out how to include the plants, they agreed the needs of the plants and designed the bridge for them.
This kind of relationship between people, plants and bridge should be celebrated, but we should go further. The bridge should not simply be a new icon for London, it should become a symbol of a city that is building its relationship between people, wildlife and built environment in a radically new way.
The proposed northern side of the Garden Bridge ends (or starts) on the roof of Temple underground station. Temple is literally a stone’s throw away from the newly calculated geographic centre of London. This would make the perfect location for a Greater London National Park Centre, a visitor’s centre and hub in the centre of London.
The role of the Greater London National Park Centre would have a number of roles. For the public it would be a place to learn about the park and how to explore it. Promoting Greater London, the Centre would inspire and enable people to enjoy parks, woodlands, museums, footpaths and other opportunities in all of London’s boroughs. In doing so, the Centre will help to bring new people, business and opportunities to the edges of London. For those living and working in the Park, the Centre could act as a hub for developing, sharing and coordinating best and next practice.
Locally, the Greater London National Park Centre could help to reshape how people enjoy the Northbank. While visitors spend hours navigating through and chilling out on Southbank, Northbank is currently more a space to pass through than a place to savour. A network of trails marked by flagstones could connect the Centre to Northbanks’s gardens, cultural sites and destinations.
As it stands the Garden Bridge will be an incredible and beautiful icon for London, but if it were at the centre of a Greater London National Park it would become an inspirational symbol of and a gateway to a much greater London. The plan is for the Garden Bridge to open in 2018, let’s open the Greater London National Park then too.
If you like the idea of a Greater London National Park Centre you can vote for it on the RSA Premiums and Northbank Business Improvement District’s Good Business Challenge.
Read more about Why Greater London should be made into an urban national park on the Guardian. You can sign a the petition for the creation of the Greater London National Park here.
What if London was a National Park?
Last week a few of us in The Geography Collective launched a website for the Greater London National Park*. It is officially just a *Notional Park, but there are some good arguments (pick 5 or 10) for it becoming one. The website intentionally mirrors those of current and official UK National Parks.
To accompany the site we have created a Student Challenge to creatively explore the question… What if London was a National Park? Students of all ages can take part. We will be posting the best responses to the question in a public gallery on the Greater London National Park* website.
To find out more and to take part visit the Student Challenge page on the Greater London National Park* website here.
Over the last few weeks, with the help of a small team, I have been working on a secret geography project.
The project is a geographical provocation that you may or may not agree with, but I will really appreciate any noise that you can help to make around it… may it be positive or negative.
If you are potentially able to tweet, blog, comment on a forum or something else entirely on Tuesday (April 1) please click through and add your name before Tuesday.
Many thanks, Daniel.