By Cailey Rizzo
November 29, 2018
Couples and families spending the afternoon in the Hyde Park. The Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London and a popular location for leisure activities.
Credit: Getty Images

The words “National Park” typically conjure mental images of expansive fields, snow-capped mountain peaks or deep canyons. However, the world is just months away from inaugurating its first urban park.

For the past five years, Daniel Raven-Ellison, a “guerrilla geographer,” has been petitioning for the city of London to become the world’s first National Park City.

Last year, London’s mayor Saddiq Khan announced that he was throwing his support behind the movement and the city would be inaugurated by July 2019. The christening will open with a National Park City Fair with speakers, stalls and walks around the city.

"London is not just a city, it's a landscape," Raven-Ellison told CNN. "It's a landscape that's home not just to nearly nine million people, but there are as many trees. We share this city with 15,000 other species of wildlife and I don't think that urban life is worth any less than that life that we see in maybe those more distant places from cities."

Raven-Ellison’s argument holds weight. There are unique species of birds, foxes and, yes, even rodents that patrol London’s streets. The landscape itself is unique, going from concrete and skyscrapers to grassy heaths in the north. About 18 percent of the capital is dedicated public park space and 47 percent of Greater London is already green.

One of the main goals of the National Park movement is to amplify London’s green space through plant installations on roofs and walls around the city.

But there are a few snags that London may run into. The city is infamous for its smog, mostly created by road traffic. Nitrogen dioxide levels have repeatedly breached the standard set by the EU.

In 2015, Raven-Ellison created a crowdfunding campaign to make Greater London a National Park City. The movement raised almost $42,000 (£32,508) in a little over a month.

The UK currently has 15 national parks across the country. However, all of the designated land masses in the area are more traditional examples of nature, including the Lake District, Loch Lomond and the North York Moors.