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Nature in Green Belts

Birkbeck Free Lecture Series, Spring 2019, Birkbeck, University of London.

Six Friday evenings at 18:30, February 8th to March 15th inclusive. Venues for the lectures vary and will be available a month before.

Green Belts occupy around 13% of the land area of England. They are meant to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. This is to prevent encroachment on the countryside, prevent neighbouring towns merging, preserve the setting of historic towns and encourage the recycling of urban land. The secondary objectives come into play only when land has been designated Green Belt: farming, forestry, land improvement, access, outdoor sport, recreation, landscape enhancement, visual amenity and biodiversity. However, mineral extraction is allowed in Green Belts. Although not a consideration in their designation, Green Belts include much wildlife habitat and can provide access to nature near where people live. Green Belt policies help prevent much harm from development, but more explicit designations are needed to conserve nature fully. Not all Green Belt is high quality landscape, indeed, a fifth of it is regarded as “neglected”, but Green Belt land is at least as good for nature and access to nature as is the rest of the countryside. There are many projects promoting nature in Green Belts. Green Belt policies restrict the scope for new towns providing affordable housing in places where people wish to live, so increasing commuter journeys. Also, the encouraging of the recycling of urban land can lead to “town cramming” and pressure on nature in places that are even closer to where many people live. Town cramming may increase land values, thus making housing targets difficult to achieve. In this context, this series examines some of the excellent initiatives for nature in the Green Belt.

Details of the individual lectures and a reading list will be posted on this web page once they become available.

Further details, and venues, will be posted at or email: