IHBC features ‘Heritage form the urban doorstep’: Mayor announces ambitious new plans to rewild London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a new £600,000 Rewild London Fund, to help restore London’s most precious wildlife sites and create more natural habitats for plants and animals to thrive.

image: St James Park – Marcin Bia?ek, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

…£300K of funding for 40 ‘Keeping it Wild’ traineeships…

… Access to green space and nature .… a matter of social justice and health inequality…

London Assembly writes:

  • Mayor announces new fund to help restore some of the capital’s most treasured natural sites and improve biodiversity
  • Plans unveiled for 40 “Keeping it Wild” traineeships to help young people who are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled or from areas of economic deprivation, to develop vital green skills
  • Mayor confirms the first 45 projects to be supported by his £6m investment in green spaces

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced a new £600,000 Rewild London Fund, that will help restore London’s most precious wildlife sites and create more natural habitats for plants and animals to thrive.

There are 1,600 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) in London, covering 20 per cent of the capital. These include the world-famous nature reserve Richmond Park, Sydenham Hill Wood and the downlands in Bromley and Croydon that inspired Charles Darwin’s discoveries. Currently only around half of these sites are being appropriately managed to conserve or enhance their special wildlife

The new Rewild London Fund will be delivered with expert advice from London Wildlife Trust and will support 20-30 of these sites to ensure that London’s special species thrive, from creating new homes for stag beetles to water voles in newly restored waterways and helping birds like swifts and house sparrows to flourish.

The Mayor has also announced a further £300K of funding for 40 ‘Keeping it Wild’ traineeships for young people aged 16-25. The traineeships, delivered with the London Wildlife Trust, will support young Black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners, as well as young disabled Londoners and those from areas of economic deprivation, to develop vital green skills and help to remove barriers to entering the sector.

Sadiq also announced plans for a “Rewilding Roundtable” event that will explore opportunities for more ambitious, innovative projects to support nature in the capital. These plans will help make London a leader in urban rewilding, from restoring rivers to reintroducing species currently absent from London

Today’s announcements build on the policies that the Mayor introduced in his London Plan, including robust protections for green spaces and the Green Belt, as well as the £6m investment in green spaces and climate resilience launched in June 2021, with the first beneficiaries of that funding also announced today.

The Grow Back Greener Fund has awarded £1.4m – including £500,000 from Thames Water – to 45 community projects that will create and improve green spaces and boost climate resilience. As well as helping to rewild London, these projects will increase access to green space, reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

Access to green space and nature is not just an environmental issue, but a matter of social justice and health inequality. The Mayor wants all Londoners to live within a 10-minute walk of green space, and the projects receiving funding today will help to achieve that goal.

Projects funded through the Grow Back Greener Fund include:

  • Greening, Growing and Rewilding, led by Roots4Life, which will enhance a new green space in Greenwich with a wildlife pond and meadows.
  • Water Quality Nature Solutions, led by Canal and River Trust in Brent and Barnet, which will improve water quality and support wildlife at the Brent Reservoir, one of London’s key nature sites
  • Oakthorpe School SuDS and Wetland, led by London Borough of Enfield with Oakthorpe Primary School and Thames21, which will de-pave and transform the school playground with new rain gardens, alongside a new wetland nature trail at the Tile Kiln Open Space next door.
  • Buried Seeds Project, led by The Soul Shack CIC, a youth-led project to create a community healing garden on a disused green space in Kennington
  • Ram and Magpie Community Garden, led by Spitalfields City Farm, which will create a new 500 square metre community garden on a disused and inaccessible piece of land next to the farm in Tower Hamlets, co-designed with the community.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. In London, we need to take bold action to ensure that we not only halt the decline of biodiversity in our natural environment but pave the way for growth and change. That’s why I’ve announced my new Rewilding Fund, which will help restore the capital’s precious wildlife sites, improve biodiversity and ensure all Londoners have a thriving web of nature on their doorstep.?And as part of our Green New Deal, we’re supporting young Londoners to gain the skills required for jobs that help secure a future for London’s natural environment.

“I am proud to have helped London to be recognised as the world’s first National Park City in 2019, and this funding shows my commitment to protecting that status and doing all I can to protect London’s amazing network of green spaces, rivers and natural habitats.”

Director of Learning, Youth & Communities at London Wildlife Trust, Leah McNally, said:“We are absolutely delighted that the Mayor of London will be supporting London Wildlife Trust’s hugely successful ‘Keeping it Wild’ traineeship programme for young people aged 16-25. Paid opportunities like these are a fantastic springboard into a career in nature conservation and are vitally important in supporting under-represented young people who face barriers to accessing jobs within the green economy. We are really excited to also be supporting the Mayor of London’s ‘Rewilding Fund’ which will have a positive impact on improving Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) in London, for both people and the wonderful wildlife that we share our great city with.”

Environmentalist and non-executive board member of the DEFRA, Ben Goldsmith, said: “I’m so excited to be working with the Mayor on this new rewilding taskforce for London. All people need experience close connection with nature in their lives, and yet for many Londoners this is a remote possibility today. From green rooftops to pocket parks, nest boxes for peregrines and swifts, rewiggling streams and reintroducing long lost native species, our plan is to weave wild nature back through the very fabric of our city.”

Thames Water CEO, Sarah Bentley, said:“We’re really supportive of the ambition to make sure every Londoner lives within 10 minutes of green spaces and I can’t wait to see the wonderful community gardens and wild places these projects will create. We know improving access to nature is so important for people’s health and wellbeing and these community projects will leave a positive legacy for generations to enjoy.

“The Grow Back Greener Fund closely connects with our own aims to protect the environment and invest in the communities we serve. Green spaces provide sustainable urban drainage, giving rainfall a place to be soaked up rather than mixing with sewage in our drains. With climate change having more of an impact on the capital, we all have a responsibility to take action. We’re working hard on reducing our carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030 and these projects will help our collective action to support climate resilience.”

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