Milton Keynes has a new aspiration to become an official National Park City
MK Council, along with the Parks Trust, today announced plans to win the official title and turn the city into a "living showcase" for how climate change can be tackled through biodiversity.
This comes on top of plans, revealed earlier this year, for MK to become one of the greenest cities in the world and the first carbon negative UK city by 2050.
A full plan of action to win National Park City status will be unveiled in spring 2020, but early ideas include improving the diversity of local habitats, increasing tree stock, connecting woodland and increasing flood resilience.
Already MK has 5,000 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland, enough trees to be (technically) classed as a forest, and a system of pedestrian walking and cycleways stretching 300km. In Milton Keynes, nobody is ever more than half a mile from a park, say council bosses.
Workshops on the impact of water, nature and trees will take place on November 25 and 26, and the council is inviting professionals and amateur experts to be part of the initiative.
Councillor Emily Darlington, cabinet member for public realm said: “In Milton Keynes, we have biodiversity and the climate crisis at the heart of our future. We already have a head start in our ambition to be the greenest city with our outstanding green infrastructure. Corridors linking key strategic reserves were an integral part of the borough’s original design. We’re also a place where collaboration is a very normal part of doing business, which makes conversations like these a lot easier.”
She added: “The health of our biodiversity is a testament to the health of the city. We need to protect the 5B’s; bees, bugs, butterflies, bats and birds. These lovely creatures are some of our most vulnerable and form key parts of the eco system. We are also the home to the endangered Great crested newt and increasingly home to the dormice. I am proud of our record in creating the right environment for these creatures to thrive.
“This is a crisis on a global scale but local authorities, working with partners are in a unique position with access to land and the control to make sure it’s managed to promote the highest opportunities for biodiversity. We intend to take some big steps forward and we hope others can learn from our experience.”
Philip Bowsher, Head of environment and volunteering at The Parks Trust said: “We support the principles that Milton Keynes Council are adopting for the green environment of Milton Keynes and look forward to working with them, and other partners, towards delivering this vision."
Currently there is one other National Park City in the UK and that is London. But the National Park City Foundation (NPCF) is aiming to name at least 25 more by 2025.