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£750K boost for the Royal Parks charity to protect wildlife in heart of London

A conservation project to protect and increase biodiversity across 5,000 acres of London parkland has received a £750k boost, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The new award enables The Royal Parks’ Mission: Invertebrate project to continue for a fifth year, protecting and promoting wildlife in London’s green spaces at a crucial time for climate and biodiversity.

4,720 different species of invertebrates (and counting!) have been found in the Royal Parks. Launched in 2017, Mission: Invertebrate supports a diversity of wildlife across the Royal Parks by helping these ‘bugs’ such as bees, butterflies, beetles, worms, slugs and snails to thrive. These tiny creatures are the cornerstone of biodiversity, playing key roles in the ecosystems of our green spaces.

With the current climate crisis, and alarming rates of biodiversity decline across the world, there has never been a more important time to prioritise the conservation value of our green spaces. The project carries out expert research to investigate populations of insects and other invertebrates across London’s eight Royal Parks, as well as transforming habitats and providing opportunities for people to learn about the vital roles these tiny creatures play and the environmental pressures they face. Since the project began, habitats have been created and enhanced throughout the parks including wildflower meadows, orchards, reedbeds, hedgerows, trees, ponds, pollinator-friendly planting and bee and bug hotels. More than 10,000 London school children and 19,000 members of the public have also discovered park wildlife through Mission: Invertebrate’s free or low-cost activities.

The Royal Parks already receive a combined 77 million visitors a year. The Covid crisis over the last year has demonstrated the vital importance of local parks to the wellbeing and mental health of 9 million Londoners: A 2020 YouGov poll showed that 79% of Britons polled agreed the Coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the need for more accessible nature-rich green space near to peoples’ households1. Mission: Invertebrate is enabling The Royal Parks to enrich the biodiversity of the parks, protect precious habitats and to provide new opportunities for Londoners to engage with nature on their doorsteps.

This year Royal Parks are creating new ways for park visitors to connect with invertebrates and the range of biodiversity benefits they provide through a range of self-led walking trails, exhibitions and online resources, as well as increased interpretation about our invertebrate habitats. Schools, families and adult learners will be able to engage with the Mission: Invertebrate team and with the invertebrates of the Royal Parks through a new virtual learning environment.

In 2021 Royal Parks will also be unearthing the secrets of the ground beneath visitors’ feet in some of London’s busiest parkland, shining a spotlight on the importance of soil health in improving urban green spaces. This often-overlooked habitat not only supports a wealth of invertebrates, but is also vital to the growth of the city’s trees and plants, to help prevent flooding, to protect parks and gardens from heatwaves and drought and to help keep our waterways clean.

Far from being wastelands for wildlife, towns and cities support a huge diversity of invertebrate life and many of our urban green spaces – including the Royal Parks – are sanctuaries for rare and notable species. The variety of gardens, allotments, urban nature reserves and parkland provide a unique mix of food and shelter for pollinators and other invertebrates. The Royal Parks are uniquely positioned in the heart of London to act as central green corridors within this network, offering an anchor for wildlife in one of the world’s busiest cities. Andrew Scattergood, Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, said:
“The support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled Mission: Invertebrate to catalyse a step-change in wildlife habitat creation across the Royal Parks, enriching the experience of millions of visitors each year and enabling them to connect with nature. The Covid crisis has demonstrated just how vital a resource parks are for everyone, and the value of immersion in nature to people’s health and wellbeing. This generous funding will enable The Royal Parks to conserve and enhance the wealth of biodiversity found in some of London’s best-loved parks, ensuring that they remain places that wildlife can thrive in years to come.”

For more information on Mission: Invertebrate, including details of volunteering opportunities, outdoor learning and free family activities, visit: Royal Parks Website ‘ Mission Invertebrates’ by clicking here

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