Greenwich Nightfall (Joan Walsh)
If you live in London, you would likely think not. Nobody would assume a great booming city with traffic, noise and thousands of shops could qualify. Or could it? In fact, London is officially one of the world’s greenest cities (American writer Bill Bryson says it’s more like a park or forest, as it has more parks and green spaces than nearly any city.
London has 9 million people, but also sustainable architecture, over 8 million trees and 14,000 species of wildlife (not just red deer and stag beetles). Along with a huge amount of parks, it also has many rivers, lakes and ponds, and roads only take up 12% of the space (Londoners run 3.8 million gardens). So compared to many other cities, it is for sure a lot greener. Even in urban areas there are 30,000 allotments, to go alongside the 3000 parks and 142 nature reserves.
London Parks looks at the green spaces from Hampstead Heath to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to Battersea Park (home to the statue of the little brown dog), Burgess Park and Richmond Park. Try spotting pelicans and politicians in St James’ park, or find birds in the London Wetland Centre. Or just enjoy the views from Greenwich Park.
London is a Forest (by street tree expert Paul Wood) looks at 7 carefully devised paths, to explore the city’s urban forest geography. 9 million people crammed into 600 square miles alongside 8.5 million trees, makes this a city forest.
Get his Great Trees of London Map. Includes flowering cherries and an ancient 2000 year old yew (oak and yew trees are toxic to horses. See toxic plants, flowers, trees and other items to avoid near pets.
Of course, whether you think London is green and pretty, likely depends on what part of it you live. If you live in leafy Richmond or Barnes, you are likely seeing a lot more wildlife and trees than if you live on an urban estate in the East End or in Kensington (a huge divide between rich and poor). And London has other problems like air pollution and heat island effect (higher temperatures, often due to cutting down trees). But it’s still no.1 for greenest city, followed by Bristol and Manchester. And it has more trees than any other area of England, save Surrey and Exeter (Devon).