Re-greening the UK: Progress Being Made Say Greenpeace

Urban Greening in the UK
It may not seem like it but our green and pleasant land is one of the most urbanised countries in Europe with around 85% of people in the UK living in and around towns and cities. And since William Blake wrote about the dark satanic mills of the 18th Century there has been a slow but relentless loss of large swathes of our natural environment and clean air.
But all is not lost, says a recent article by Greenpeace. Things are starting to change.
“…up and down the country, local communities are bucking historical trends and starting to re-green their towns and cities. People are working together and finding ingenious ways to restore the natural world in urban environments.”
And as the benefits become apparent more of us are taking action without waiting for big government to step in, and transforming urban areas into practical and beneficial environments in the fight against climate change, air pollution, flooding and wildlife habitat loss.
Here is a selection of some of the ingenious projects they highlight as people power starts to take action:

Bee Bus Stop.

Originally trialled in Holland, Brighton and Hove has a new green roofed wildflower bus shelter, the first of its type in the South of England.  Their wild flowers attract pollinating insects whose numbers have sharply declined in recent years, especially in urban areas. Not only do these bus stops make fantastic sanctuaries for bees, they also absorb rain water to help prevent flooding, reduce temperatures in the summer and capture pollution particles from the air – as well as looking great.

Brighton and Hove Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty says: “We all know that there has been a serious decline in biodiversity and insects. And the green roof on this bus stop is a perfect way to give nature a breathing space…

Some of the cities already adopting them around the UK are: Leicester, Brighton, Derby, Oxford and Hereford.

You can find out more on the Brighton and Hove website

Wildflower Meadows

What might once have been seen as a sign of neglect is now meeting with widespread approval as local councils around the UK stop mowing their grass.

We were just going to see what came up and it’s been much better than we expected,” says Southwark council parks manager Will Walpole.
In fact according to research done by The Guardian 70% of councils have deliberately reduced mowing to boost wildflowers.  This has allowed a mass of flowering, adding colour to city parks, roadsides and verges, and most importantly, has allowed nature to flourish.
And it’s not just local authorities. Championed by events such as “No mow May” gardners have been mowing their lawns less to allow wild flowers to grow. And in addition so called “guerilla gardners” have been taking the concept further and actually planting wildflowers in neglected urban areas and roundabouts.

Tree Planting

So it might sound obvious that we need trees but sadly the UK has fewer trees than almost any country in the world and around three times less woodland than the EU average. Or just 11.7% woodland cover compared to an average of 37% for the EU. And according to a report by the House Of Lords, France and Greece have more than double the woodland cover of the UK and Spain has more than three times the amount.

As environmentalist and activist Jon Burke puts it “What if I told you there was a single intervention we could deliver in our cities that would cool them during heatwaves, reduce flooding, scrub pollutants from the air, boost biodiversity, improve public health, and even reduce crime? You wouldn’t believe me. But it’s true.”

The Committee on Climate Change says 1.5bn trees need to be planted by 2050 for the UK to achieve its net-zero carbon target.

Greenpeace’s Aiyan Maharasingam says Charities like Trees For Cities are working with ambitious local authorities to plant thousands of new trees in cities each year. Cities like Cardiff, Leeds and Portsmouth are leading the way and have planted tens of thousands of new trees in the last year or so. These new trees will support plants and animals, clean the air and reduce temperatures in the summer, and also make their communities more beautiful places to live.

Wildflower sedum roof with Bee and insect house
Urban wildflower meadows
The examples in this article are highlighted with many more at
where you can also find out about Parklets and Hedgehog Highways!
The Urban Greening Company is committed to helping all areas of Government, business and the public make our urban areas more liveable for all.
Here are some similar projects to those mentioned above we have worked on:

Re-greening by congested A4 in London

Terrace Planting – City of London.

If you have an urban greening project or idea you would like to discuss please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.