Trust hosts talk on National Park City concept
National Park City Foundation CEO Daniel Raven-Ellison visits Glasgow to encourage debate about places, people and nature
Speaking last night at an event hosted by the Trust at the Glasgow Science Centre, Daniel Raven-Ellison asked the question: Could London become the first National Park City?
Highlighting his own experiences as a guerrilla geographer – someone who studies places and the relationships between people and their environments – he illustrated how, over time, he has become increasingly interested in how we can make places more exciting, pleasurable and beneficial for people and nature.
In recent years, his focus has been on how green spaces impact positively on people’s health and wellbeing as well as the wider environmental benefits. This has led to him being one of the leading advocates for the creation of a London National Park City – and a new Foundation’s Chief Exploration Officer.
“It’s not about creating another National Park”, he told the audience, “It’s about creating a National Park City, it’s a different thing.”
“National Parks are a brilliant idea that exists in the wildest parts of the UK. We want to bring that idea, the aims of the National Park concept, and all its benefits into cities, while recognising the differences.”
While over 14,000 different species have the city as their habitat, 1 in 7 young people did not spend any time in greenspaces at all during the last year: why not collaborate widely to ensure 100% of London’s children regularly experience nature? Daniel said, “There’s something broken when some school children have no education in the outdoors, this is particularly the case in cities.”
Sharing examples of wildlife reserves and engagement initiatives operating in London, like the Trust’s John Muir Award, he said that he believes a National Park City can galvanise positive change on a city-wide scale rather than in a piecemeal way.
Questions from the floor following his talk included whether Glasgow should be thinking in a similar way, while others asked whether a National Park City was really needed at a time when resources are being depleted in existing National Parks?
Amongst his answers Daniel said, “I believe National Parks and a National Park City can complement each other. There’s an opportunity to communicate a broader message that nature is important whether it’s in the wildest places in the UK or in a meadow in a city. The more we can do to connect people to these places, the more likely we are to then encourage society and its politicians to fund these places. It’s about making a bigger pie rather than taking a slice out of a diminishing one.”
Read more about why the Trust was an early supporter of the campaign for a London National Park City.
Image credits: Kevin Lelland