London’s open spaces are one of its greatest assets, socially, environmentally, and economically. Yet they are also a secret asset. People are always surprised to hear that getting on for half of London is blue and green space.
That’s why reports which raise awareness about the importance of open spaces are so welcome.
I was pleased to write the forward for Spaces Wild, a fantastic new report from London Wildlife Trust, and to speak at its launch yesterday.
The report focuses on Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs). SINCs are a planning designation designed to protect these sites for people, for nature, and as a critical component of London’s green infrastructure.
Across London over 1,500 wildlife sites have been recognised as SINCs, comprising almost 20% of the Greater London area. They provide a vital home to many of the 13,000 species that have been recorded within the capital over the last 50 years, including many rare and threatened species. They also provide a place for people to walk, relax and escape the stresses of city life, positively influencing mental and physical health. And they provide essential ‘city services’; such as reducing flood risk, moderating local temperatures and enhancing air quality.
However, as London’s population growth is expected to reach 10 million by 2030, SINCs are coming under increasing pressure. As chair of the Planning Committee, I have heard about a local authority being forced to choose between saving a park or building a much-needed school.
The time to speak up for these places is now. This report is an important part in that effort, and I urge you to read it.