Biodiversity in London

17 January 2014

Despite being one of the largest urban areas in Europe, almost two thirds of London is made up of green spaces and more than 1300 sites are recognised as being of value to wildlife. 

bluebells

However, during the course of its work, our Environment Committee heard in the three years up to 2012, some 215 hectares of “open space land” has been lost and the numbers of sparrows and song thrush have been in decline for years.

Amid revelations that the Mayoral Strategy on biodiversity has not been updated for more than a decade, we conducted a survey of 841 nature conservation and community groups, plus individuals in London over the summer to find out their views about biodiversity in the capital.   

More than half of respondents believed Mayor Boris Johnson is not doing enough to protect and support the capital’s green spaces and wildlife, and over sixty per cent felt local boroughs were also not doing enough.

The survey also revealed that almost four in 10 respondents were particularly concerned about pressure from developments.

The Committee wrote to the Mayor in November 2013, urging him to take a strategic lead and act as an essential catalyst on issues relating to biodiversity conservation in London, and to update the Mayoral Biodiversity Strategy to reflect changes in policy and thinking since it was published 11 years ago.  

Our letter also set out a number of actions it wanted the Mayor to consider, including raising awareness on how to protect and encourage wildlife in green spaces and giving support to relevant organisations and volunteers.

It also highlighted how with the increase in decking and paving on private gardens - which make up a third of London’s green spaces -  there is a need to increase public awareness of their value in maintaining biodiversity in the capital.

UPDATE: The Mayor responded to that letter in January 2014 agreeing with the Committee that it would be appropriate to produce an update or supplement to the Biodiversity Strategy, which would set out what the strategy has achieved to date and where it needs to focus in the future in order to support the collective endeavour of those organisations working to protect and manage London's natural environment. The reply is attached below.