Wildlife forum calls for opponents to submit views on changes to Natural History Museum's wildlife garden

The Wildlife Gardening Forum is calling for opponents to plans to transform the grounds of the Natural History Museum in London, including the controversial demolition of its wildlife garden to submit their views to a consultation which closes on Friday.

Artist's impression of the future Western Gardens, the current Wildlife Garden site. Image: Pictureplane
Artist's impression of the future Western Gardens, the current Wildlife Garden site. Image: Pictureplane

On May 13 the National History Museum submitted an application for extensive grounds transformation to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea including major changes to its wildlife garden.

The plans, designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects with landscape architect Kim Wilkie, include the creation of a new civic square and improved public access, both of which have been welcomed by the forum.

The changes will make arriving at the museum more enjoyable, reduce queuing time and include outdoor galleries and extend green space around the museum buildings.

Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said of the changes: "We are prioritising nature, recognising the value of urban green spaces for both wildlife and human wellbeing. By creating an inspirational outdoor experience for all to enjoy the living natural world becomes an integral part of visiting the Museum for more than 5 million people a year."

But the Wildlife Gardening Forum is concerned about one aspect of the plans: the bulldozing of the one-acre wildlife garden and its replacement with a green space some three times the size, with around half managed for biodiversity.

The current garden, which opened in 1995, contains key lowland British habitats with woodland, grassland, scrub, heathland, fen, marginal vegetation, and standing water, and is home to some 3,000 species of vascular plants, mosses and liverworts, lichens, algae, fungi, bats, birds and invertebrates. 

The museum's ecological impact assessment (PDF) says there will be a net gain in habitat areas and "long term the enhancements will significantly improve the levels of biodiversity across the grounds", with increased species density.

"Of the existing Wildlife Garden, it is anticipated that 75 per cent of the planting will be will be retained in situ or relocated within the scheme and the new area of wildlife habitats in the Western Grounds will be twice the current Wildlife Garden."

But in a letter to members, Wildlife Gardening Forum coordinator Dr Stephen Head said: "While some of the proposals are excellent and uncontroversial, the plans call for the effective destruction of the wildlife garden in a viable form.

"The best parts are being destroyed, the remainder will have 6,000 visitor transits per day through it, and the replacement habitats are dispersed and compromised in several ways.  The museum project team are arguing that the net outcome will be better for biodiversity than the present arrangements, but the evidence is strongly to the contrary."

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

IoG Saltex 2016 - show preview

This year's Saltex will be looking to build on the success of last year by packing in a multitude of exhibitors and sessions over the two days, Sally Drury reports.



These tidy evergreen trees are not just for Christmas and come in a range of shapes and sizes, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Tree lifting, moving  and planting

Tree lifting, moving and planting

Successful relocations can see even big trees flourish while costing less than buying new stock, says Sally Drury.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Landscape Contracts & Tenders

Industry Data

New: We have pooled the wealth of data from the past six months' worth of Landscape Project Leads to create an exclusive report for subscribers looking at the key development trends, clients and locations for 2016.