Natural capital of the parks
The Royal Parks represent some of our greatest natural and national assets. Life enhancing and life sustaining environments that we all share.
What is natural capital?
Natural capital is a way in which we can quantify the benefits that humans gain from the Earth's natural resources, and the services that they provide. At the heart of the concept are the natural resources of our planet, from its geological features, rocks and minerals, through its rivers, lakes, seas and groundwater to the plants, trees and animals that inhabit its landscapes.
From natural resources flow a range of 'ecosystem services' - all of the functions that natural resources provide to human life. These can range from the cooling effect that forests, parks and green spaces have on local temperatures, to the health benefits of spending time in nature.
The Royal Parks are huge storehouses of natural capital, especially in a capital city. Like any natural resource, if we don’t enhance, replace or restore the natural capital of the parks, we risk long-term damage to their sustainability and biodiversity.
What the parks do for us
As natural resources, the Royal Parks hold immense value. Over 170,000 trees provide shade for people and animals as well as converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. The 5,000 acres of green spaces cool the city and help reduce temperature. The soil locks up carbon and tree roots stabilise the soil, preventing further erosion. The lakes, ponds and scrapes of the parks help us regulate and control water as temperatures rise and heavy rainfall becomes more frequent. And they provide natural water storage in times of drought.
Natural capital and our quality of life
For the millions of Londoners and visitors, the Royal Parks are central to our quality of life and wellbeing. They are the backdrop to royal ceremonies and state occasions, drawing visitors from across the globe. Free green spaces to play in, meet friends, get closer to nature or just be alone with our thoughts, year-round.
The climate emergency has highlighted the vital role that natural resources – or the lack of them – play in fighting climate change. It’s the natural resources of London’s Royal Parks that help.
The parks are one of our most effective assets against climate change.
Putting a value on the natural capital of the Royal Parks
Understanding what you have is the first step to caring for it with integrity. These reserves, though great, are finite. Our new audit initiative, Natural Capital Accounting, sets out to put a measurable value on the natural capital of the parks.
The protection and conservation of our natural world, its habitats, wildlife and its resources lies at the heart of every decision we make. What we learn as a result of this initiative will help us make the right decisions about managing the amazing green spaces of the parks and protecting the natural resources and biodiversity here for generations to come.