Across London over 1,500 wildlife sites have been recognised as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), comprising almost 20 per cent of the Greater London area. The report explains that they provide a vital home to many of the 13,000 species that have been recorded within the capital over the last 50 years, including many rare and threatened species.
They also provide a place for people to walk, relax and escape the stresses of city life, positively influencing mental and physical health. And they provide essential ‘city services’; such as reducing flood risk, moderating local temperatures and enhancing air quality.
However, the capital’s SINCs are coming under increasing pressure as the city and its population grows. London boroughs, land managers and the communities that benefit from them need to be better equipped to use the policy framework that is in place to ensue they are protected and managed for the benefit of wildlife and people.
Trust senior planning officer and report co-author Gemma Hallam commented: "Wildlife sites are an essential part of the city’s fabric, providing refuges for biodiversity, places for people to have contact with nature, and keeping London vibrant and healthy. We hope this report can inform and support local authorities, land owners and communities, encouraging them to value London’s open spaces and ensuring that such sites survive and prosper as species-rich ecosystems, benefiting the entire city."
The Spaces Wild report (PDF) has been produced to help decision-makers better understand the role of SINCs in London. It highlights some of the threats facing SINCs but also demonstrates how these can be countered or reduced. It emphasises the important role of local communities and encourages local authorities to recognise and promote the wider values of SINCs including the benefits to people’s health and well-being.
The report recognises that innovative approaches to land management and funding may be required and encourages the public to get involved in the planning process to ensure policies to protect these sites are rigorously applied.