London – The first National Park City in the World

One way or the other, London is famous for many things. Whether it be History, finance, empire, culture or just the weather. One of the things that might not spring to mind when you think of London, however, is just how green it is even though by area, it has by far more green and open spaces than any city on Earth.



Green London


Perceptions may be about to change however as not content with being one of the greenest by area, London is on course to becoming one of the greenest and most sustainable cities on Earth, full-stop! In fact, as of next year, London will become the first-ever National Park City – a project that will push for half of the city area to consist of green and blue spaces – parks and bodies of water – by 2050. The figure is currently at just over 47%. Support for the campaign has been so successful that organisers are now launching an initiative to also plant nine million wildflowers across the city.


A stag deer in autumn, in Richmond Park.  Photo by Smudge 9000 (

London is home to more than 8.3 million trees and 14,000 species of wildlife. Just think of that, if it were in a rainforest, the figure would be astounding and though in purely ecological terms it may be better if it were just the trees with all those pesky human bits, nevertheless it might be time to think of London not just as a political, cultural and financial centre, but as an ecological centre too.

  • 1,572 km2 in area
  • 3.8 million gardens
  • 8.3 million trees
  • 14,000 species
  • 30,000 allotments
  • 3,000 parks
  • 300 farms
  • 50+ canoe clubs
  • 1,000kms of signed footpaths
  • 850kms of rivers, canals and streams
  • 14,000 wildlife species
  • 2 Special Protection Areas
  • 3 Special Areas of Conservation
  • 4 UNESCO sites
  • 37 SSSIs
  • 142 Local Nature Reserves
  • 1,400 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation
  • 2 National Nature Reserves – Richmond Park and Ruislip Woods

I have to admit, even I didn’t know there were 3000 parks in London.  The photos below give just a small illustration of the variety and size of London parks.


Hampstead Heath, the wilds of London, just 4 miles north of Trafalgar Square.  Photo by Cristian Bortes from Cluj-Napoca, Romania


A snapshot of the London Wetlands, a habitat to encourage species dependent on waterlands and marshes. Photo by Brian Gillman

View from Shooters Hill

View from Shooters Hill

The view above is take from near Greenwich Observatory and almost on the Prime Meridian.


The deer parks are always fun to explore but remember, these are wild animals and will protect their young.   Photo by Emőke Dénes


2.5% of London is water which provides a haven for all manner of species, not least humans wanting to get away from it all. It’s hard to be more in the middle of London than the photo below. You might remember my post on the hidden rivers of London, well this is one that remains…


The River Lee by plentyofants


As well as the many massive large parks, woodlands and waterways, the City of London itself is home to dozens of pocket parks. Many of them are only a few feet across and almost unknown about even by locals. I visit some of them on my tours and am in the process of writing a book about them,


Who would think between Buckingham Palace and Big Ben you would find this wildflower meadow with a lake behind it?



The park above is the one I walk through often on my way to the tube station, Cassiobury Park and measures up around 200 acres in size.


Little Venice Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

Another tour idea I have is of exploring some of London’s canals.  Whilst Birmingham famously has more canals than Venice, London has more than most and they provide an incredible peaceful and hidden side to the big city.

Just a tiny spot of the vast Wimbledon Common which is comprised of lakes, woodlands and grasslands.  Photo by Peter Trimming / Wimbledon Common / CC BY-SA 2.0

In order to promote London being the worlds first National Park City, this fantastic map has been produced which you can have for free, or if you want to like myself, make a voluntary donation.  Visit NationalParkCityLondon to grab your copy,

As you can see London isn’t just a massive city but a large area of connected green spaces.

I hope this posts encourages you to explore and help grow the green spaces wherever you live.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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9 Responses to London – The first National Park City in the World

  1. That’s really cool. I want to say, “No way, my city’s just as green as old London!” And that’s the best kind of challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

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