Turning the UK's capital city into a national park may sound far-fetched, but a campaign to do just that has been given a boost.
The plan was officially proposed on Wednesday at the London Assembly, where a motion was passed supporting in principle the creation of a Greater London National Park.
The formation of a national park, campaigners claim, could benefit businesses and the city’s growing population.
The idea was proposed by geographer and explorer Dan Raven-Ellison, to protect and celebrate London's biodiversity. His research suggests that London loses £26m a year due to mental health conditions, and a further £600m due to obesity - issues which national park status would aim to tackle by protecting the city's green spaces.
Raven-Ellison thinks that national park status could transform business sectors in the capital, with economic growth spread to the outer boroughs of the city and a boom in eco-businesses. He told the Guardian:
There are so many business opportunities that can be inspired by this idea. That’s one of the really exciting things about it. There are all kinds of ways it can be spun out.
The park would cover 1,500 square kilometres, and be home to more than eight million people. Organisers say that the formation of a national park is needed to protect the city - with over 60 per cent of London consisting of green, blue or open spaces.
According to the website for the campaign, the city has over 1,300 sites of importance for nature conservation - with over 1,500 species of flowering plants and 300 species of bird. It says:
The Greater London National Park is the world’s first urban national park that encompasses an entire city. The park is unique in recognising the value of its urban habitat, celebrating its beauty, wildlife, built environment and cultural heritage.
The land upon which London is built today has felt the footsteps of our ancestors since prehistoric times. Palaeolithic flint hand axes that could be 100,000 years old have been found in the heart of London.
The city itself is nearly 2,000 years old having been founded by the Romans in c. AD 50 as Londinium. Today, London is one of the world’s most famous cities and home to four Unesco World Heritage Sites – one of the highest densities in the world.
The campaign has so far raised £18,700 from 149 backers. It has another 10 days to reach its £30,000 target.