London has just been named the world’s first National Park City, a designation that underscores the city’s attempts to become greener, healthier, and wilder. The National Park City initiative is intended to improve the city’s natural environment, wildlife habitats, and incentivize citizens to develop a better relationship with nature.
The program isn’t meant to designate national parks but to make urban areas more park-like. Indeed, London’s abundance of green space, waterways, and trees, made it an ideal candidate for the world’s first National Park City, as it could easily expand upon its already existing features.
Adding green spaces is one of the major aesthetic elements of National Park Cities, and it has even been shown to improve citizens’ mental states. Open space for people to exercise and relax, trees that provide shade and combat pollution, and gardens that produce nutritious fruits and vegetables are all factors leading to London’s new designation.
To encourage other cities to follow London’s lead, the National Park City Foundation has partnered with other organizations to create an international charter that lays out a blueprint for how cities around the world can become greener. “This is what cities will aspire to,” said Tim Webb, National Park City Foundation trustee, “when they set off on the path towards joining the National Park City family.”
The foundation aims to have 25 designated cities by 2025, but Webb would be “delighted if they went over that target.”