Richmond, Bushy and Greenwich Parks offer almost 4,000 acres of valuable green space in London. In a single trip you could spot a tawny owl having a much-needed nap, a rare butterfly floating around in the summer breeze or a 800-year-old tree that wouldn’t look amiss in a fairytale.
Over the past year you may have noticed some figures in orange uniforms roaming around these three Royal Parks. They’re our Volunteer Rangers and we’d love if you made them feel welcome.
These volunteers are giving up their free time because they love the parks and want to improve them, for the people that visit now, and in the future. They also care deeply about the thousands of non-human residents of the park, from stag beetles and butterflies, to kingfishers and deer.
Our Volunteer Rangers will help visitors get the most out of their experience in the parks, showing them where best to go for walks and sharing some facts about the parks’ rich history and natural surroundings.
The project is a three year pilot and if successful the service will be rolled out to more Royal Parks.
The importance of these parks
Both Richmond and Bushy Park are of national importance because of their contribution to wildlife and nature. Wild deer have been roaming the open grassland since the 1600s and today they are home to over a 1,000 red and fallow deer. Both parks have been designated by Natural England as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve.
Overlooking the River Thames and home to one of London’s most iconic views, 590-year-old Greenwich Park is the oldest enclosed Royal Park. The World-Heritage Site is a unique mix of 17th century landscape, stunning gardens, monuments, and a rich history that dates back to Roman times. The park is part of the UNESCO Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site.
Increasing visitor numbers pose new challenges
The parks are very special and unique, and word is spreading. We have seen visitor numbers double in both parks since 2008, with almost 5.5 million annual visits a year to Richmond Park, 2.4 million to Bushy Park and 4.8 million to Greenwich Park at our last count. Numerous studies have shown that being outside in green space can elevate mood and improve health, and we are proud that more and more visitors are choosing these parks as a place to unwind.
As well as helping visitors brush up on their nature and history knowledge, the Volunteer Rangers will raise awareness of wildlife protection issues in Richmond and Bushy Parks, such as the importance of not disturbing skylark nests or getting too close to the deer. Aside from being dangerous, getting closer than the recommended 50 metres can stress the deer, and lead to females giving birth later in the year when it’s harder for their young to thrive.
In Greenwich Park,Volunteer Rangers will help support a lottery funded project to protect and enhance this World Heritage Site. Their focus will be to help visitors uncover fascinating facts about the history and nature of the park and encourage people to explore lesser known attractions in the park from Queen Caroline's Bath to the Wilderness Park.
Educate, not enforce
It’s important to remember, however, that the Rangers are only there to educate, not enforce. We have police based in the parks to enforce our regulations and that won’t change, but our Rangers will provide tips on how we can all help protect these invaluable open spaces.