The Covid-19 lockdowns we endured (and are enduring) made us all rediscover the importance of having high quality green space on our doorsteps. For those of us who are lucky enough to live in one of the UK’s National Parks or Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, going for our daily walks surrounded by restorative nature and beautiful vistas was food for the soul. But for the majority of us who live in towns and cities, the countryside can feel like it is out of reach or not for us. We want to overcome that.

A year ago today (21st September), the UK government published an independent review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty by Julian Glover, Associate Editor of the London Evening Standard. His review made 27 proposals including a call for a new focus to stop the decline of nature in these protected landscapes, and to welcome more working class and black, Asian and minority ethnic visitors. One of his proposals stood out to us:

‘Welcoming new landscape approaches in cities and the coast, and a city park competition’

The review praised the creation of the London National Park City in July 2019, highlighting how our urbanised lives aren’t served as well as they might be by the current static system of protected landscapes. And the National Park City movement is anything but static! For example, since the publication of the landscapes review we have:

  • Recruited over 50 National Park City Rangers - enthusiastic and talented volunteers who want to make their bit of London greener, healthier and wilder for all the residents of their Boroughs. Glover recommended that all National Landscapes should have Rangers and should encourage more volunteering, well we’re clearly on it
  • Launched the Prize to Transform the Future of the London city region with Ordnance Survey, Culture Declares and a range of the National Landscapes in the south east of England. Glover recommended just such partnerships between cities and the protected landscapes that surround them
  • Announced our intention to create a 100-person People’s Assembly, representing the diversity of London to advise and guide on activities to improve life in London by making it greener, healthier and wilder. Glover recommended that National Landscapes should establish partnership groups made up of people who represent the interest of those areas.

 

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Our ambition for London is limitless, but we don’t want to keep all the good stuff just for Londoners. That’s why we have partnered with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar to set our ambitions for spreading the National Park City movement around the world. There is enthusiasm bubbling up in places as far afield as Adelaide, Seoul and Sacramento, and as close to home as Newcastle, Glasgow, Swansea and Belfast, among other UK cities. We want to welcome more cities into the National Park City family, growing the movement around the world, improving life in cities for millions more people.

That’s why we are inviting people from cities on every continent to join us in celebrating Urban October - the UN’s global conversation about the future of our cities. With our partners we are hosting a series of events on the theme of Better City, Better Life:

  • On 29th October, our 100 International Voices event will shine a spotlight on the inspiring stories of people working in cities around the world to make life better
  • On 30th October we will be launching our guide for people in cities who want to join the global family of National Park Cities
  • Throughout the month there will be opportunities for emerging leaders to nurture their skills and connections as they develop campaigns and actions in their emerging National Park Cities.

With enough support from enough people in cities all around the world, there is no reason why all urban citizens shouldn’t have the privilege of connecting with nature on their doorsteps, along their streets and in every neighbourhood. Join us in our Urban October events to help make this a reality. Every city can be a National Park City.

 

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