The National Parks of the UK are truly a national institution. Like the Queen Mother, red phone boxes and excessive tea consumption, they are ingrained in the nation's collective consciousness and are seen as an
A National Park City is inspired by the family of National Parks but is not the same as a National Park. It is a “large urban area that is managed and semi-protected through both formal and informal means to enhance the natural capital of its living landscape". It is led by volunteers with a network of supporters and backing from councils including the Mayor of London. In this article we will present ten facts about the UK's first National Park city - London - a Metropolis with a surprising amount of natural beauty within its boundaries.
1) It's Official
London was officially declared the world's first National Park City in July 2019
2) First of Its Kind
The National Park City Foundation (NPCF), in partnership with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar, created the first International Charter for National Park Cities. While London is the first, NPCF is aiming 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.
3) Oh Deer!
London, a city of nearly nine million residents, is filled with wildlife. Nearly 15,000 species live there, including bats, hundreds of bird species, mischievous foxes, cute squirrels and a lot of deer!
4) Leaf It Out!
There are almost as many trees in London as there are people, and nearly half of its urban areas are either green or blue space (rivers, canals, and reservoirs).
5) The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Green places in cities bring a wide array of benefits including reducing air pollution, reducing flooding, absorbing carbon and cooling warm cities. A recent Danish study found that childhood exposure to green spaces reduces the risk of developing some psychiatric disorders in adolescence and adulthood. Japanese studies have shown that "forest bathing" (being in nature for a couple of hours), enhances our bodies’ natural killer cell activity.
6) In the Thick of It
London is built in the Thames Delta, in the middle of marshland only 5 to 10 meters above sea level. London's beautiful geography is clearly visible in the cityscape: from Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath or the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park, one overlooks the beautiful Thames Valley.
7) Giving Something Back
In 2011 two residents of Brockley started Brockley Society’s street tree campaign, working in partnership with Lewisham council to facilitate the planting of trees across the large borough. It is now known as Street Trees for Living (STfL), a friendly and open organisation that engages with the local community and continues to work closely with Lewisham Council, offering support to those who wish to have trees planted on their street. Since 2012, STfL has planted over 600 street trees!
8) So Special
In England, Sites of Special Scientific Interest are areas afforded special legal protection because they are important for wildlife and as geological sites. As of August 2019, there are 37 sites designated in Greater London, 30 of which have been designated for their biological interest and 7 for their geological interest.
9) Pie & Mash
Greater London is one of the largest urban areas in Europe, with an area of 1,572 square kilometres. Its boundaries were set in 1965 when Greater London, which covers the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, was created.
10) Swanning Around
Whether or not Her Majesty the Queen actually owns all of the swans in the United Kingdom is a question asked by many. The short answer is yes! The Queen ceremonially owns any unclaimed mute swan in open water in both England and Wales. This has been a law since medieval times. Her ownership is shared with the Worshipful Company of Dyers, granted to them by the Crown in the 1400s. In fact, every year there is a census of all the swans in the River Thames!
Bonus: Inspirational Quotes Posters
The UK's National Parks, and the UK's only National Park City, host some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. They have inspired countless artists, poets and adventurers. With our inspirational quotes posters we too hope to inspire people to be creative and adventurous. Check out our Inspirational Quotes Collection and let us know what you think!