Since today is World Photography Day, I thought I would share a series of some of my most recent photographs with you lovely viewers. And, since I tend to consider London a worldly and world-class city, these photographs will be of London. More particularly, the wilder aspects of city life. It is also International Orangutan Day but, as I have not yet been lucky enough to capture this particular creature on camera yet, you will have to make do with wild things more along the lines of butterflies and flowers.
Close your eyes and think of the United Kingdom’s nature. You may be picturing the craggy tops of Scottish mountains or the wilderness of the Yorkshire moors or even the eponymous lakes of the Lake District. One thing you almost certainly won’t be imagining is London. The sprawling, beeping, concrete covered and polluted capital is not somewhere that you would associate with getting in touch with your wild side.
Certainly, it can be hard. According to a recent study by Camping in the Forest, 76 percent of Londoners can’t recognise heather which is the highest percentage in the country. When I mentioned to a friend that I was writing an article on wildlife in London, he thought only of pigeons and foxes. And sure, no one stays in London for the abundance of sweet little bunnies, right?
But, as a born and bred Londoner, I can guarantee that it is possible to nourish a love of the outdoors whilst living in this crazy city. London is actually a great place for wildlife. Considering that it is one of the most populous capitals in the world, with over 6 million inhabitants, it has an astonishing range of plants and animals. There are more trees in London than in many cities; in fact, it averages out as one tree per person!
There are numerous parks, cemeteries and ponds that include protected habitats and rare species. Hyde Park hosts a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and there are protected sites for nesting peregrine falcons near the Tate Modern.
In addition to its wild outside spaces, London has plenty of indoor ones too. Kew Gardens and their extensive greenhouses hold countless varieties of botanical plants and insects from around the world. Whilst this may negatively reflect our old imperial appropriation, it also provides an opportunity for city dwellers to slow down their hectic lives and regain a connection with the wild. Furthermore, London, as the capital and the face that the United Kingdom presents to its visitors, receives generous government funding to care for and maintain its green spaces.
Happy World Photography Day (and International Oranutan Day)!