London has officially become the world’s first National Park City, as it joins an initiative to make our urban areas cleaner and greener for future generations.
But if you’re thinking it’s the same folks who are operating the countryside parks, you’re mistaken. The National Park Cities Foundation is a worldwide organisation, which has brought together hundreds of environment and climate advocates with support from the World Urban Parks organisation and The Saltsburg Global Seminar.
At its heart is a charter, which cities can sign to pledge a commitment to up green space to 50% by 2050 – which follows the same pledge by Sadiq Khan earlier this year.
There are also charter pledges to improve health, habitats for wildlife, clean air, locally grown food, and playing, cycling and eating.
With a population of nine million and obvious problems with air quality, London might not seem like the obvious first National Park City. However, it has one of the biggest densities of trees of any major European city, which cover 16.6% of its area. It's also home to huge numbers of wildlife, with over 15,000 species calling the capital their home – including the biggest stag beetle population in the UK. Sadiq Khan has also recently announced serious clean air targets.
But what does it mean for those whose idea of a weekend in a National Park means tripping off to Dartmoor, the Lake District or Yosemite to get active?
London is a great place to get outdoors, with huge parks and plenty of green spaces. The London National Parks site has plenty of ways to get started, from using the Capital Ring and London Loop orbital paths to exploring the waterways.
And this week, there are tons of celebratory events to mark the launch of London as a National City Park, with the city's roof gardens opening up.
And more cities could be following suit. In the UK, Glasgow and Newcastle are currently preparing to sign the charter. So before jumping in the car this weekend to head to a National Park, why not first consider what London has to offer?