On July 22 2019, London was officially named the world’s first National Park City in an effort to support the city’s mission to transform into a greener, healthier and wilder place.
Since the announcement a number of cities including Glasgow, Scotland and Newcastle upon Tyne have joined the movement, launching campaigns to become the UK’s next National Park City.
The first International Charter for National Park Cities (NPC) was created by The National Park City Foundation (NPCF) in partnership with World Urban Parks and Salzburg Global Seminar.
Although London is the first city to be added to the list, the NPCF aims to add another 25 National Park Cities by 2025 and discussions have already begun to help more UK and international cities achieve NPC status.
The idea behind the NPC is to encourage a greener way of life as well as one that is more closely connected to nature within cities around the world. It was originally pioneered by National Geographic explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison six years ago.
Londoners are celebrating their new green status and many feel the best way to tackle the environmental problems around the world is to start in cities.
London in particular has a population of 9-million people and a species count of nearly 15 000. There are almost as many trees in London as there are people as well as a fair number of canals, rivers and reservoirs, making it an ideal city to obtain National Park status.
The announcement has not only changed residents’ perceptions along with the rest of the world, but also encouraged those who live in the city to become more wildlife-friendly by filling their balconies with plants or growing their own vegetables and fruits in public spaces. As Londoners become more integrated with nature so do they begin learning to live harmoniously alongside it.
This butterfly effect has resulted in more green spaces popping up around the city offering an array of benefits from reducing air and water pollution as well as flooding to absorbing carbon dioxide and allowing for better cooling on hot days.
London might be the perfect candidate for this kind of project in the UK but we can’t think of a better one in South Africa than the Mother City. There is huge potential for making a change to cities around the world with the NPC initiative and we hope Cape Town will soon be added to the list.