London’s most valuable green spaces have been revealed

London is a city of many parks. From massive green spaces like Hyde Park or Richmond Park to all the little courtyards, squares and plazas dotted across the city, us Londoners sure are blessed with plenty of patches of nature. 

And the abundance of parks is super beneficial not just to our health but the economy too. A report by the City of London Corporation, which owns and manages a whopping 11,000 green spaces across the capital, has revealed just how valuable those spaces are. 

The sites’s ‘value’ was indicated by their ‘net natural capital value’, which is an ecological measure that considers how a space captures and stores carbon dioxide, regulates air pollution and noise, and prevents floods. In other words, the green spaces’ value is much more than simply the potential price of the land they occupy. 

All together, the value of the sites (which include the likes of Highgate Wood, Burnham Beeches and Ashford Common) is estimated to amount to £8.1 billion over the next 50 years, or £282.6 million each year. 

While the City Gardens (the 200 small sites nestled in the Square Mile) had the highest overall value altogether, the single most valuable green space went to Epping Forest, the city’s largest open green area. For every £1 spent on maintenance of Epping Forest, apparently £20.20 of benefits are generated. Call that a return on investment. 

Epping Forest attracts 10.5 million visitors per year, but Hampstead Heath isn’t far behind. The north London park generates £8.40 for every £1 spent on maintenance and attracts around 8.1 million people per year. 

But more can be done to enhance the value of these areas. Areas of the Heath and Epping Forest are considered to be in ‘poor condition’ and could be improved by making them more useful for recreation, such as with walking groups and ‘green gyms’. 

Cleary taking care of these areas is worthwhile. Caroline Haines, chair of the City Corporation’s natural environment board, told the Standard that ‘the work that goes into keeping these world class sites maintained and looking their best is a significant undertaking, yet – as this report shows – they are worth every penny to society.’

And we agree – London’s parks and green spaces really are unmatched. Here is a collection of the very best green spaces across the city, all the best secret spots and hidden gardens, and some cracking places to go wild swimming

Did you see that a new David Attenborough VR experience has launched in London?

Listen to Time Out’s brilliant podcast ‘Love Thy Neighbourhood’: the newest episode with Seapa (aka Allan Mustafa) in Stoke Newington is out now.

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.