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TfL publishes new Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity Plan to further support creating a greener city – London Post

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Transport for London (TfL) has published a new Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity Plan, as part of its continuing work to become the strong, green heartbeat for London, supporting the Mayor’s ambition of a carbon-neutral London by 2030 and to tackle the nature emergency.

The plan, which fully aligns with TfL’s Corporate Environment Plan, published in 2021, sets out how TfL will improve and care for green infrastructure and biodiversity across its estate and networks. It captures in one place, for the first time, its existing relevant targets, legal requirements and policy commitments, while also setting out the strategic actions TfL will take to deliver them. The plan was developed following a wide range of engagement within and outside TfL, including London’s boroughs.

London is home to a remarkable variety of plant and animal species. From its lush green parks and gardens to its riverbanks and woodlands, the city provides a wide range of habitats. Green infrastructure and biodiversity – the variety of all living things and their interactions – provide a wide range of important benefits, such as helping the city adapt to climate change and encouraging active travel.

TfL Image – Green Infrastructure at Hanwell Elizabeth Line station
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This new plan will ensure TfL meets a range of commitments to further enhance and support green infrastructure and biodiversity across London, including:

Achieving a 10 per cent biodiversity net gain on applicable schemes (i.e. planning system projects and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects) from February 2024
Delivering a net gain in biodiversity across TfL’s estate by 2030, compared to the 2018 biodiversity baseline map
Boosting tree canopy cover across TfL by 10 per cent by 2050, compared with the 2016 baseline
Doubling wildflower verges to 260,000 square metres in 2024, and developing a longer-term plan to continue their introduction across London
Ensuring 5,000 square metres of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), such as rain gardens, are installed on TfL’s road network each year
Further reduce the use of pesticides across TfL and eliminate where operationally and financially feasible
As one of London’s largest landowners, with more than 2,300 hectares across the capital, almost a third of TfL’s land is covered by vegetation. This includes land which intersects two Special Areas of Conservation, six Sites of Special Scientific Interest, eight Local Nature Reserves and 139 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. TfL’s wide variety of habitats, from woodland to wetland, support more than 1,000 animal species – such as a range of butterfly species and eight different species of bat within a disused railway tunnel at Highgate – as well as almost 700 plant species across London. Many of the species found on or near TfL’s estate are legally protected and therefore it is important to protect their habitat.

In 2022, TfL was the first transport provider in the UK to carry out a natural capital account for its estate, to the high standards of the Natural Capital Protocol and the relevant British Standard. The account found that the benefits from TfL’s natural capital assets that can be monetised have a current estimated gross asset value of £328m. While this is a significant figure, it is still likely to be an underestimate, and TfL is now planning on a range of biodiversity research and innovation projects to help fill in data gaps and improve future accounts.

Using this information, TfL will be able to make better decisions about how to manage its green infrastructure and increase biodiversity. TfL plans to double the area of wildflower verges alongside the TfL Road Network to 260,000 square metres in 2024. It will also explore potential ways to further increase biodiversity at these sites, which already support 17 different species of butterfly, five of which are London Priority species. TfL is also on track to meet its commitment to deliver an additional 5,000 square metres of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), such as rain gardens, on its road network each year. These nature-based solutions not only help support biodiversity but also help reduce the risk of flooding from storms.

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