|Pic credit: Hedgehog III by Kalle Gustafsson via Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kallegustafsson/|
Image provided through a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode
We think of London as a thriving, busy urban centre. A place of art, commerce and culture. We don't really consider the green parts of the city at all. But our capital is scattered with parks and wild spaces, with an honest to goodness National Forest licking at the eastern boundary of Greater London.
These places are important. They're good for the soul and the health of the capital and the people who live in it. From the grand expanses of Hyde Park to the calm sanctuaries of Sydenham Hill Wood, London is in some ways defined by the spaces that turn their backs on the stone and skyscrapers.
The green spaces of London are home to all manner of wildlife. From insects to birds to foxes and hedgehogs, if you know where to look old London Town is alive with interest. It should be another reason to celebrate.
But of course, things are never that simple. Developers and property magnates are always hovering, ready to swoop on unwatched and unprotected green spaces and build on them. Their argument: London needs more buildings. It's an argument that ignores the role that the parks and meadows play in the health of the capital as a whole. They are not just places for people to relax, or animal refuges. London's green spaces play a vital role in maintaining a heathy eco-system, helping with temperature control, air quality and even flood protection.
The guardians of London's green spaces are the London Wildlife Trust, who have been keeping an eye on the ecological life of the city since 1981. Their remit is simple: to protect and maintain over forty nature reserves across the capital, and to ensure that Londoners know that they don't have to travel outside the M25 to see a patch of grass. They work on projects that open up neglected areas of the city, not to another block of over-priced flats, but to the people of London as a whole. From Tump 53, an old munitions site in the heart of Thamesmead that's now a nature reserve, to the re-opening of the capital's most expansive purpose-built waterway, Walthamstow Wetlands, the London Wildlife Trust is working hard to connect the capital's green spaces into a necklace of jade jewels. A beautiful, natural gift for a glamourous city.
The current campaign is a little more down to earth. They're fighting to protect London's original street urchins–the hedgehog. Numbers of the spiny critters have plummeted over the last 50 years by almost two-thirds, as their natural habitats disappear. Plans for the HS2 rail link will further endanger hedgehogs, putting at risk the last known breeding population, in Regent's Park. Supporting the campaign, writer and adventurer Ben Fogle says:
It's a campaign that's well worth supporting, as is the work that the Trust do as a whole. Here at The Pier, we've been supplying the London Wildlife Trust with custom apparel for years. They're doing great things, helping to keep the nation's capital green.
“Everybody loves hedgehogs! It’s a tragedy that they are disappearing so quickly particularly when it’s easy to help them. We can all have a go at planting a native hedge, creating gaps in fences for them to pass through, leaving leaf or log piles and allowing parts of the garden to grow wild to give them a home.”
For more on the Trust's Hedgehog campaign, check out http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/hedgehogs2015.