London benefits greatly from being the greenest major city in Europe - and third greenest city of its size in the world - according to a report commissioned by the City of London Corporation.
The capital’s provision of 14,000ha of public parks, woodlands and gardens mean that nearly 40 per cent of its surface area is made up of publicly accessible green space. The next major city green space provider in Europe is Berlin, with 14.4 per cent of green surface area.
The City of London Corporation report, ‘Green Spaces: The Benefits for London’, authored by BOP Consulting, looks in detail at the range of environmental, health, social and economic benefits of the capital's green spaces.
Through an extensive literature review of both academic and ‘grey’ literature, the report credits London’s large and small green spaces with climate change mitigation - absorbing pollution, reducing flooding, and improving air quality.
Enhanced public health, reduced stress and improved social and community interactions – particularly for children - are also flagged, alongside cost savings for government through such positive impacts. Green spaces are also found to improve the price of properties located in close proximity.
London’s green spaces also contribute a number of economic benefits to society. The report cites research which found that people are more likely to be physically active if they have access to green spaces, making major savings for the NHS. Estimated costs of physical inactivity, obesity and heart disease to the NHS are £8 billion every year.
And the capital’s parks are not only attractive to Londoners – the report also finds that London’s iconic parks and woodlands can be a major draw for national and international tourists and a boost to the local economy.
City of London Corporation policy chairman Mark Boleat said: "London is known the world over as a leading financial centre - but its parks, woodlands and gardens play a key role in making it perhaps the best place to live, work and visit in the world."
The City of London Corporation manages almost 4,000ha in and around the capital, including London’s largest – Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath, and over 200 gardens, churchyards, parks and plazas within the Square Mile. In 2012/13, annual visits to the City Corporation’s green spaces were estimated at 23 million.