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."