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A project to protect and increase wildlife across 5,000 acres of London parkland has received a £750k boost, thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The new award will allow The Royal Parks Mission: Invertebrate project to continue for a fourth year during 2020. Launched in 2017, Mission: Invertebrate supports wildlife across the Royal Parks by helping ‘bugs’ such as bees, butterflies, beetles, worms, slugs and snails to thrive. The project carries out expert research to investigate populations of insects and other invertebrates across London’s eight Royal Parks, as well as transforming habitats and providing opportunities for people to learn about the vital roles these tiny creatures play and the environmental pressures they face.

Since the project began, new habitats including wildflower meadows, orchard, earth banks and pollinator-friendly planting have been added to the parks. More than 10,000 London school children and 19,000 members of the public have also discovered park wildlife through free or low-cost activities.

The Royal Parks already receive a combined 77 million visitors a year. With London’s population predicted to soar to 9.3 million by 2021, Mission: Invertebrate is enabling The Royal Parks to act now to increase awareness among Londoners of the wildlife on their doorsteps, to protect the parks’ precious habitats and to work with organisations to help improve biodiversity across the city.

This year, by unearthing the secrets of the ground beneath visitors’ feet in some of London’s busiest parkland, The Royal Parks hopes to shine a spotlight on the importance of soil health in improving urban green spaces. The project will focus on measuring and improving the health of soils across the Royal Parks. This often-overlooked habitat not only supports a wealth of invertebrates, it is also vital to the growth of the city’s trees and plants, to help prevent flooding, to protect parks and gardens from heatwaves and drought and to help clean our water.

Far from being wastelands for wildlife, towns and cities support a great diversity of invertebrate life and have the potential to act as sanctuaries for rare and uncommon species. The variety of gardens, allotments, urban nature reserves and parkland provide a unique mix of food and shelter for pollinators and other invertebrates, and the Royal Parks are uniquely positioned to provide linking green corridors through the heart of London, offering an anchor for wildlife amid some of the city’s busiest areas.

Dr Alice Laughton, Project Manager for Mission: Invertebrate, said: “We are absolutely delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are continuing to support our work. Invertebrates are not always at the top of everyone’s list of favourite creatures, but if you care about plants, trees, and other wildlife, it’s vital to protect invertebrates. This new funding allows us to study soils in urban parkland and the role that invertebrates play in soil health. It’s another important step in getting under the skin of urban ecology to ensure that conservation efforts in the future have the strongest impact possible.”

Andrew Scattergood, Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, added: “Through the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery for Mission: Invertebrate, we have been able to take major steps to create richer habitats for wildlife in each of the Royal Parks, balancing the impact of millions of visitors each year. However, there is so much more to be done to protect biodiversity through the coming decades. As London’s population grows and environmental pressures increase, this generous funding will help conserve the wealth of wildlife found in some of London’s oldest, busiest and best-loved parks.”

Click here for more information on Mission: Invertebrate, including details of volunteering opportunities, outdoor learning and free family activities.

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