London's gardens changing from green to grey: report

Thu Jun 9, 2011 12:49pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London's gardens are changing from green to grey as householders are paving over front lawns, laying decking and building sheds, a wildlife charity said.

The British capital is losing the equivalent of two and half times the size of its central Hyde Park of greenery a year driven by trends in garden design, the London Wildlife Trust said in a report released this week.

"London's gardens cover a vast area. But the speed and scale of their loss is alarming," Mathew Frith, deputy chief executive of London Wildlife Trust, said in a statement.

"Collectively these losses detrimentally affect London's wildlife and impact on our ability to cope with climate change. It's never been more important that Londoners understand the value of our capital's gardens."

The trust compared aerial photos of London in 1998-99 and 2006-08. Analysis of the data showed London's vegetated land dropped 12 percent over the period, a loss of 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres).

Londoners dropped their lawnmowers and built sheds with the amount of lawn falling by 16 percent, or 2,200 hectares, while garden buildings rose in area by 55 percent or 1,000 hectares.

Green space was being lost to decking and paving in gardens and to housing developments, the report said. The equivalent of 500 gardens were being lost to new housing development on average each year in the capital.

The study showed that about 24 percent of Greater London is comprised of garden land, with an estimated 3.8 million individual garden plots. There are estimated to be 2.5 million garden trees in London.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)