From the extensive open spaces of the Thames estuary to the small-scale lowland farmed landscape of the clay vales to the north and west, and the more dramatic North Downs in the south to the ancient woodlands of the north London ridge, the region can boast a wide ecological range despite a very high proportion of developed land.
Most of London’s natural environment assets are a product of urban influences: a desire to protect historic landscapes (the Royal Parks); a legacy of infrastructure (reservoirs and gravel pits); the amenity needs of an urban populace (parks and greenspaces), and; the decline of industry and manufacturing (brownfield sites).
London’s most valuable landscape and nature conservation features are also some of the most important recreation and amenity assets in the capital - its green lungs. The Lea Valley, Epping Forest and Riddlesdown, for example, were originally acquired to provide extensive areas of open space for Londoners. Today it is acknowledged that the conservation of landscapes and wildlife, and ensuring that all Londoners have good access to natural green spaces, is integral part of securing London’s status as an ‘exemplary sustainable world city’.