According to a report released in July this year, London is the greenest capital city in Europe, and compared to others by its size and population density, the third greenest city in the whole of the world!
It may not seem logical on your morning commute, what with the non-stop juggernaut of traffic that sweeps London’s streets, but the actual city contains over 35,000 acres of green public parks, gardens and woodland areas. Rather astoundingly this equals approximately 40% of the whole of London’s surface area. Comparatively, the next great city on the list, Berlin, only has a staggering 14.4% green surface area.
Although central London may, in fact, be desecrated by the Gods of modern development, and hold court with domineering glass skyscrapers, we still have a wealth of green areas to enjoy in the city. Not only are there the Royal parks such as St. James’ and Regents Park, but out to the east we have the massive Hackney Marshes, and down south-west we have the resplendent and gargantuan Richmond Park.
Whilst London is known as one of the most important business epicentres in the world, its green areas are what makes it more than just another city. Visitors can get the best of London’s urban sprawl whilst also finding time to enjoy the verdant scenery and diverse wildlife that it houses. From the deer or Richmond Park to the peregrine falcons that adorn the capital’s buildings, there are sights and sounds that only London can offer.
It may seem like it’s just a good thing for the tourists, and for the locals looking to dip into a little sightseeing or to take a break from the hustle and bustle, but London’s parks do far more than that! Large park areas and woodlands act as carbon sinks, absorbing the excess CO2, as well as a lot of the other chemical pollutants, that we produce. Our green areas also go a long way in reducing flooding, by absorbing excess rainfall.
With an estimated 4,000 deaths, each year caused by poor air quality in the capital, London’s green areas also go a long way towards improving this and coupled with the introduction of the congestion charge in order to lower emissions, as well as the hydrogen bus, we’re certainly on the right track.
However, we can’t rest on our laurels. With the development of further infrastructure including new road and airport expansion likely to worsen air quality, we need to protect, maintain and expand upon what we have already got.
Image by HerryLawford