City of Nature Plan earns prestigious regional award

Published: Thursday, 17th November 2022

The council-backed Birmingham City of Nature Plan has won the Judges’ Award at this year’s West Midlands National Park (WMNP) Awards.

Established in 2021, the awards programme aims to recognise, celebrate, and share examples of best practice supporting the development and delivery of the WMNP.

In winning the award yesterday (November 16), the Birmingham City of Nature has been able to demonstrate how it meets all nine of the WMNP’s Core Principles (see background notes for more details).

The City of Nature Plan provides a vision and delivery plan for the future of Birmingham as a global green city – a vision shared by the newly formed CoN Alliance, a collaboration between all of the city’s core third sector environmental partners.

As a strategic plan, it starts by addressing the needs of the least well provided for, through its environmental justice approach. In parallel, it also works to restore the city’s lost nature, create critical greenways to connect neighbourhoods and enable greater active travel; all leading to a more liveable city, with nature at its heart; finally fulfilling Birmingham’s Biophilic City ambitions.

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “Our parks and open spaces are one of our city’s strongest assets, so it is incredibly pleasing to see our strategic City of Nature Plan being recognised through this awards scheme.

“Through the plan, the council and other partners have made it clear that our shared environment has a hugely important role to play in the future of our city – not least through our ambition to almost double our number of parks and open spaces to 1,000 over the next 25 years.

“We’ve always recognised our parks and open spaces as a place for relaxation and enjoyment, but the social and environmental value they have should never be underestimated. That’s exactly why we have ensured the environment is a critical consideration in all decision-making and why we are working to improve nature and green spaces in some of our most deprived areas in the coming years.

“This award is a tribute to the effort put in by many people and organisations over several years to get us to this point. I know everyone involved will continue doing everything they can to improve our city’s environment in the years to come.”

The WMNP Awards programme, launched in 2021, is designed to recognise, celebrate, and share best practice, policy and research and to guide and inspire work that deals with challenges faced by the region that include the climate emergency, regeneration, environment, transport, identity, infrastructure, employment, skills well-being and understanding how to achieve a resilient green recovery.

Professor Kathryn Moore, Director of the WMNP Lab and Professor of Landscape Architecture at Birmingham City University, said: “This second year of the WMNP Awards marks an important milestone in the delivery of the West Midlands National Park.

“We were impressed by the volume and quality of projects applying for an award and the list of finalists tells a story of creativity and innovation from across the region and beyond.

“We were delighted that the judges chose the City of Nature for their special award as this project exemplifies many of the core tenets that are embedded in our approach, and we would like to congratulate the project leads and the whole team at Birmingham City Council for delivering such an impressive and far-reaching project.” 

Background notes

About the WMNP and the WMNP Awards

The WMNP is a new kind of urban National Park, recognised by the UK Government Landscape Review and adopted by the West Midlands Combined Authority in June 2020.

It sets a new vision and a new challenging benchmark for all future projects and programmes, to meet its nine Core Principles.

The WMNP Awards are not judged under categories, but how projects address the nine Core Principles, which are as follows:

  1. Making quality of life and quality of the environment the priority.
  2. Seeing the bigger picture by collaborating and crossing silos and boundaries.
  3. Environmentally and culturally productive use and care of all landscape resources.
  4. Engaging all communities in the climate agenda, focused on transformative action.
  5. Supporting community pride, confidence and health.
  6. Creating environmental and community resilience through landscape-based culture, identity, stewardship and replenishment.
  7. Learning from local and traditional knowledge.
  8. Connecting policy and practice in finance and governance.
  9. Use of expertise to re-imagine the landscape.

West Midlands National Park 2022 award winners are:

  • City of Nature, Birmingham City Council – also receives the WMNP Judges’ Award 
  • Gramer Haor, Bangladesh, Co.LAB, Birmingham City University and Shahjala University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh – also receives the WMNP International Award
  • Naturally Connected Communities, RSPB
  • Planting Our Futures, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Black Country GeoPark, a joint partnership with Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton Councils
  • Waterways for All, Canal & River Trust
  • Cultural Infrastructure Map, West Midlands Combined Authority
  • Making Space for Nature, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Linear Park Coventry, Complex Development Projects Ltd
  • Blossom Together in Birmingham, The National Trust
  • Purple Horizons, Walsall Council, Lichfield District Council & Natural England
  • Armed Forces Garden, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council with The Royal British Legion

Further information on all of the winning projects, including video submissions, is being made available via the WMNP website:

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