London is lucky in having lots of public green spaces, compared with other similar world cities that is.
Various Kings and Queens maintained parks for pleasure and sport, then came the Victorians who created new open spaces. Canals, roads and train-lines added corridors through the maze of buildings and London took shape. That's the whirlwind guide. In a similarly speedy way let me take you to a time after the Second World War. A new enthusiasm exploded for imports so food growing fell out of favour and, right up until the early nineties, front gardens gave way to parking. All this meant that our green spaces looked green, but were increasingly bereft of life beyond pampas grass and gladioli. It was as if someone decreed we must ban wildlife and replace it with the exotic and artificial.
We're older and wiser now. It's taken a while for us to cotton on to the fact that our drains can't cope, wildlife has dwindled and we no longer grow enough food to meet our needs. In short, we are unsustainable.
Parks won't cure all our ills nor immediately solve the global economic crisis, but managing them properly will help moderate humidity, lessen the impact of sudden heavy rainfall, increase wildlife and provide space for us all to exercise, play and extend the number of years we remain fit and active. Our parks can become arks for wildlife. Supporting a broad range of critters and plants that help balance and maintain the natural systems that provide us with clean air, flood protection and yes, even some food.
RSPB research into declining house sparrows has proved that different management styles can increase biodiversity. There are three basic options we investigated:
There are other types such as chalk soils, acid grassland and scrub. All are present in London and are increasingly seen as assets rather than wasteland. We need all these spaces to provide a healthy and sustainable city. I'm certain there is greater diversity in London than you'll find in many parts of the countryside, but don't take my word for it. Get outdoors and discover it yourself.
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