The Urban Nature Project

We're working in partnership across the UK 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 our help now more than ever. We particularly need to understand and protect nature in our cities, so monitoring its changes is vital.

We're working to give people across the UK, no matter who they are or where they live, the motivation and tools to safeguard nature in towns and cities, so that people and planet can thrive.

The Museum's gardens are closed

The Museum's gardens are closed until early 2024 while we create an accessible and biologically diverse green space dedicated to urban nature. 

Transforming the Museum gardens

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.

The new outdoor galleries will be a place for people to learn about the diversity of life on Earth and how our planet is changing over time. They will also showcase the Museum's scientific research.

In the new gardens, we are:

  • improving access to the garden with universal step-free routes across the site
  • doubling the amount of wildlife habitat on our grounds and creating a fabulous setting for our historic building. 

An expanded schools programme at the Museum will allow schools to explore the gardens, with a focus on building a connection with nature, valuing biodiversity and actions that help nature.  

Working in partnership with local groups, a community programme will co-create activities and resources for family learning in the new gardens. The programme will include learning about plants and animals found in London, self-guided experiences and nature-friendly crafts and activities.

We will also develop a new volunteer programme and roll out a summer programme for 35 school leavers.

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.

 

Support the project

This momentous project will not be possible without your help.

Right now, you have the opportunity to make your mark in the Museum gardens like never before. From sponsoring a square metre of garden to dedicating a bench to a loved one, a donation to the Urban Nature Project is the perfect way to show your love for urban wildlife. 

Your donation could help us to transform our biologically diverse gardens, inspire the next generation to love and care for urban wildlife or support our scientists in their fight to halt biodiversity decline.

The science

The Urban Nature Project is developing new 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 is taking 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 are piloting a range of technologies for monitoring change in urban environments, including eDNA and acoustic monitoring, and sharing these with our partners alongside a DNA library and teaching collection. 

Bioacoustics, the study of individual species sounds, and ecoacoustics, the study of all the sounds at a given place, are key ways to monitor biodiversity. New recording technologies allow for continuous monitoring, but most of this research is done in areas without the challenges of urban noise.

We will be installing acoustic recorders in the new gardens to listen to the gardens and also the pond, soil and inside trees. The rich data we collect will be analysed in a way that allows us to identify what species live in the Urban Nature Project gardens and to compare this to other measures of biodiversity, such as eDNA. 

We are also developing a new public-facing biodiversity and environmetal monitoring data ecosystem to help capture, share and interpret urban nature data.

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

 

Learning from a prairie garden

Museum scientists have found 58 tiny animal species living underground in the Prairie Garden space on Lancaster West Estate.

We are working with London’s Grow2Know as they help local residents to plant and maintain their own prairie garden and find out more about the species living near them.

Working with young people

Museum staff are working with organisations across the UK to inspire the next generation, creating new opportunities for young people in cities and helping everyone learn about humanity's impact on the natural world.

The Explore: Urban Nature programme is supporting teachers and students. It provides training for teachers, curriculum-linked learning resources, hands-on outdoor workshops and a new community science project informed by student ideas and questions.

In partnership with the Prince’s Trust, we have created a Youth Workers’ Toolkit to support informal ways of learning. It equips youth workers with activities and conversation starters they can use with young people to open the door to nature around them.

We also have developed a Youth Advisory Panel to give young people a voice. So far, we have heard from 24 young people, and supported their personal development and skills.

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Funding

We thank all those who have generously contributed to the Urban Nature Project so far, including:

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