Plans for a five-acre green space and biodiversity hub in the heart of London, which will see the revamp of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Gardens, has been given the green light.
The redesign of the gardens in London’s South Kensington, which was recently approved by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, will increase and extend the existing habitats of around 3,300 species, while helping visitors to learn more about why green spaces need help to thrive.
The work is due to be completed by summer 2023 and will feature examples of woodland, grassland, scrub, heath, fen, aquatic, reedbed, hedgerow and urban UK habitats.
The gardens surrounding the Museum have always been a green and tranquil space for visitors to get up close to nature. The dedicated Wildlife Garden has been on the site for 25 years, home to a huge range of animal and plant life.
The redesign forms part of the Urban Nature Project, a national drive to re-engage people with urban wildlife and the wider natural world.
Under the plans, the east gardens will become a space which tells the story of life on Earth. With plants and fossils reflecting each geological era, and a new weatherproof cast of Dippy, the Museum’s iconic Diplodocus, the area will show visitors how old the planet is and learn about the profound impact humans have caused in a short space of time.
The west gardens will be a model for urban nature, with different habitats showcasing the biodiversity that can be found in the UK’s urban spaces. Featuring an outdoor learning centre, the west gardens will be the platform for the Museum’s national programme with activities aimed at multiple audiences.
A new ‘living lab’ will host some of the Museum’s scientific work at South Kensington, alongside a learning and volunteer programme that will create opportunities to learn how to protect urban nature.
Sir David Attenborough, who has given his backing to the revamped garden plans, said: ‘The natural world is under threat as never before. Species that were a common sight in gardens across the country when I was young, such as hedgehogs, are rarely seen by children today. These declines have devastating consequences for wildlife.
“Unless children have access to nature and experience, understand and nurture wildlife, we know they might never feel connected to nature and could grow up with no interest in protecting the natural world around them.
‘The Urban Nature Project opens the door for young people to fall in love with the nature on their doorsteps and develop a lifelong concern for the world’s wild places. Nature isn’t just nice to have – it’s the linchpin of our very existence, and ventures like the Urban Nature Project help the next generation develop the strong connection with nature that is needed to protect it.”
Elsewhere, the Urban Nature Project hopes to begin a UK-wide movement to help everyone protect nature in towns and cities.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com