How The Royal Parks helps nature thrive
The Royal Parks are some of the best places to experience and enjoy the beauty of nature in London. They improve our quality of life and remind us how precious our planet is.
Taking action on behalf of nature
It’s our responsibility at The Royal Parks charity to help nature and wildlife flourish so the parks will continue to thrive, for many years to come. From our Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Bushy Park and Richmond Park to our city centre parks such as Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, we are constantly working to boost biodiversity and enhance every acre of the parks.
The Royal Parks Biodiversity Framework
Our Biodiversity Framework is the detailed action plan for active change. The framework will help to make each Royal Park healthier, more climate-resilient and biodiverse, enabling people to connect more deeply with the natural world.
What we’re doing for biodiversity
- Adapting buildings to be wildlife-friendly through living roofs and walls.
- Planting pollinator-friendly meadows and gardens.
- Protecting the parks against habitat erosion and species loss.
- Managing thousands of trees and planting new trees including those resilient to climate change
- Creating new wetlands for the sustainable management of water.
- Launching new citizen science and learning initiatives.
These projects help to strengthen the climate-resilience of the parks, and conserve them for future generations.
Our key projects – Help Nature Thrive and Mission: Invertebrate
The park habitats are an amazing natural resource – a storehouse of natural capital in the capital city. And they’re enjoyed by millions of visitors every year. Our two landmark conservation initiatives, Help Nature Thrive and Mission: Invertebrate have already completed well over 120 habitat creation, restoration and conservation projects. Meanwhile our Richmond and Bushy Restoration Project has seen more than 30 key projects delivered, with the creation of more resilient landscapes at its heart.
So much of this work has been made possible by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Our Help Nature Thrive project puts biodiversity and conservation firmly at the centre of everything we do through positive action on climate and conservation. We'll be creating and enhancing habitats, commissioning expert research, and giving visitors many more opportunities to connect with wildlife and nature.
What we’re doing for habitats
- Expanding wildflower meadows to provide improved foraging grounds for pollinators and refuges for insects, birds and other wildlife.
- Restoring environmentally significant habitats such as acid grassland in Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Greenwich Park, Primrose Hill and Kensington Gardens.
- Creating reedbeds and other wetland habitats. Reedbeds improve water quality, and support a huge diversity of wildlife.
- Managing and protecting trees across the parks – including veteran and ancient trees which are important if not irreplaceable wildlife habitats.
- Planting and managing hedgerows and scrub to create wildlife corridors through the parks, and beyond.
- Managing dead and decaying wood sensitively, to help their complex communities of fungi, lichens and invertebrates to flourish.
- Increasing the amount of pollinator and wildlife-friendly planting in our ornamental flowerbeds and shrubberies
- Providing nesting and breeding space for wildlife – from bird and bat boxes, bug and bee hotels, to creating bird and wildlife refuges so they can raise their young safely and escape the bustle of London.
- Making our buildings more sustainable, energy-efficient and wildlife-friendly including by installing living roofs.
Keeping a close eye on wildlife – our surveys and monitoring
Monitoring and surveys play a key role in helping us look after the wildlife populations, animals and landscapes. The data collected helps us to understand the current condition of the parks and effectiveness of our interventions, spot population changes and pre-empt species loss, or pick up early warning signs of changes linked to climate change. The surveys have a direct impact on both day-to-day and long-term decisions about park management. We carry out the surveys in tandem with ecologists, academic researchers, and dedicated volunteer wildlife recorders.
Recent and ongoing surveys
- A wide range of invertebrate surveys, including pollinators in The Regent’s Park’s flower gardens, specialist acid grassland invertebrate surveys in Greenwich park, stag beetle and dung beetle surveys in Richmond and Bushy Parks, and reedbed moth surveys in St. James’s Park
- Fungi surveys to understand these species which are so critical to the health of trees and wider biodiversity, along with soil surveys to better manage this critical resource.
- A rolling programme of water quality surveys to help us manage lakes, ponds and watercourses – from the Serpentine to the Longford River.
- Bat surveys following a bespoke methodology to help identify bat species using the parks and hotspots of activity, through to monitoring of known roosts including in Richmond and Bushy Parks.
- Use of innovative survey techniques, from eDNA* surveys for fish and soil invertebrates, to the use of bioacoustics to assess the abundance of biodiversity in target habitats, such as woodlands and ponds.
- Bird and butterfly transects walked by dedicated and experienced volunteers, providing long-term datasets to track change.
- An audit of all living roofs on our buildings across all eight parks.
Many of our surveys rely on volunteers collecting data on the frontline. There may be a survey going on near you – do get in touch with us if you’d like to help.
Out on the ground – our Citizen Scientists
We couldn’t do half of what we do without the help of Citizen Scientists – people who volunteer their time or skills to help nature thrive.
Our Citizen Scientists have helped us to:
- Map and measure the anthills built by the yellow meadow ant in the acid grasslands of Richmond and Bushy Parks.
- Record the species and prevalence of earthworms across different soils in the central Royal Parks.
- Conduct Flower-Insect Timed Counts (FIT counts) to measure the number of times particular flower species are visited by pollinating insects.
- Map native hawthorn trees in Richmond Park, to identify places for new planting and the protection of natural regeneration.
- Spawn spotting – recording when and where frogs, toads and newts are breeding in our ponds.