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The Urban Nature Project

Communities acting for local wildlife

We're transforming our outdoor space to start a new urban nature movement.

It has never been more important to make our towns and cities healthy and sustainable places to live.

Wildlife is in trouble in the UK. The natural world faces unprecedented declines and needs help now more than ever. We particularly need to understand and protect the nature in our cities, so monitoring its changes is vital.

Everyone can play a part in giving nature a helping hand, so we're working in partnership to inspire a national urban biodiversity movement.

Read about our plans in detail below.

The Urban Nature Project

The Museum's five-acre site in South Kensington is being transformed into a welcoming, accessible and biologically diverse green space in the heart of London.

New outdoor galleries will showcase the Museum's scientific research and provide a space for the public to enjoy and explore urban nature. Access to the garden will also be improved, with universal step-free routes across the site.

The existing Wildlife Garden will be extended to double the area of native habitats within the grounds, providing a fabulous setting for our historic building.

Museum staff will also work with organisations across the UK to inspire the next generation, create new opportunities for young people in cities and help everyone to learn about humanity's impact on the natural world.

A family in the middle of a bioblitz in the Museum's current Wildlife Garden

The Museum's redesigned grounds will be a space for families and scientists alike to learn more about urban nature


See the developing designs

The designs for the new gardens are developing. 

A planning application has been submitted to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is available to comment on until 28 August 2020, and a decision is expected later in the year.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our consultation earlier in 2020. Find out more about how we are responding to your valuable feedback

  • The design teams leading the gardens transformation are Feilden Fowles and J & L Gibbons, and the project management consultants are Mace.
  • The Museum has also worked with several external experts and consultants who have provided feedback at critical points in during the design process.  
  • Building work is due to start in 2021 and the transformed gardens are due to be opened in 2023.

Biodiversity officer Sam shows us how he is studying the Museum's Wildlife Garden to learn more about the animals and plants that live there.


The science

The Urban Nature Project will develop the scientific tools and skills urgently needed to monitor, understand and protect urban nature.

Understanding how wildlife is responding to change requires large volumes of data. The Museum will take the lead in convening a national partnership of urban nature professionals, including academic researchers and conservation practitioners.

The gardens will become a hub for urban nature identification and field survey skills. We will pilot a range of technologies for monitoring change in urban environments, including eDNA and acoustic monitoring, and will share these with our partners alongside a DNA library and teaching collection. 

A series of workshops on how to best monitor and manage urban nature will be run in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust.

Up to five new long-term urban wildlife study and engagement sites across the UK will also be established to act as test beds for how best to manage urban spaces for wildlife.

A note on COVID-19

At a time when many of us are confined to our homes, the nature on our doorsteps has never been more important or appreciated. But it is also under threat like never before.

We're continuing to safely progress plans for the Urban Nature Project because the issues of climate change and biodiversity loss have not gone away. The Urban Nature Project is allowing us to safeguard the future of the natural world.

British wildlife

Find out about the plants and animals that make the UK home.

An infographic showing our Real World Science partners across the country, including in Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Peterborough, Dorset and Stoke-on-Trent.

We can't do it alone. A UK-wide learning programme will provide young people, families and schools with opportunities to take part in urban nature activities.

Our vision

The future of the natural world is in our hands. We're doing our bit to protect it because our vision is of a future where both people and planet thrive.

Earth is changing fast under the influence of human behaviour, and biodiversity loss - the loss of the great variety of life - is just one of the consequences. Humans rely on this nature to survive, so protecting biodiversity means protecting generations to come.

Engaging with biodiversity begins at home, yet it is declining in the UK.

Over 80% of the UK population live in urban areas, and this is projected to rise to 92% by 2030, leading to larger cities and more challenges for wildlife. This means towns and cities are rapidly becoming where most people will experience nature, therefore key places to protect the UK's biodiversity.

We need to learn more, connect with each other and act together to protect our urban nature, and we need to do it now.


The Museum has a funding strategy to independently raise funds for the project through donations and sponsorship.

The project has received initial support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Development funding of £210,900 has been awarded to help the Museum progress plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £3,231,900 at a later date.


The Urban Nature Project has been generously supported by the following donors:

  • Kirk B Alexander
  • The Cadogan Charity
  • The Evolution Education Trust
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • The Hobson Charity
  • Huo Family Foundation (UK) Limited
  • Johnson Matthey
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Angela and Harvey Soning
  • William Brake Charitable Trust