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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

General Reflection 2019

Minhyuk Seo, GiGL Partnership Officer and Commissioning Editor of the GiGLer

Paul Nash, Landscape from a Dream, 1936-8 © Tate [CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)]

Close your eyes. Clear your mind. Pull on a warm Christmas jumper and take a deep breath: think back to the start of the year and reflect on everything you have done; think back to five years ago and reflect on everything you have achieved; think back to the start of the decade and reflect on everything that has happened.

Reaching the end of a year and the end of a decade certainly seems an appropriate time to reflect on the successes, failures and learnings that have shaped who we are today. In the last ten years GiGL has become an independent company and social enterprise, grown into an 11-person-strong team, and developed a database boasting over 5 million species records, quadruple that of ten years ago. It’s been quite a ride.

Joining us in reflection is GiGL volunteer David Allen who reflects on the history of geographical information through the London Natural History Society records and how they have shaped the geographical boundaries used by wildlife recorders today. With London boasting this vibrant history of recording, GiGL co-hosted the second annual London Recorders’ Day to celebrate the community fascinated by London’s natural environment. It was a day to connect with recording past and present through wildlife records, arts and projects that enrich our understanding of Londoners’ relationships with their natural surroundings.

On 22nd July London made its mark in history by becoming the world’s first National Park City. This new movement hopes to better connect Londoners’ with their green space and the Big Green London Map is a project GiGL is involved with to help support this movement. We further enrich our understanding of London’s greenery through this issue’s book review by GiGL Partnership Officer Emma Knowles.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”

– from The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard (1840s) –

In these moments when we pause to reflect, our understanding is temporary and limited to that moment in time; we must live forwards, take on new actions, make new choices. But unlike the Danish philosopher from whom we paraphrase, we believe we can use our understanding of our past to prepare for the future, the new, and the unknown.

An example of this is GiGL’s new habitat database. Through understanding and using our past habitat data, we have created a new database that is not only more accurate but enables us to translate the data into multiple formats including UK Habitat Classifications which can facilitate future Biodiversity Net Gain projects.

Developing our database this way may also help better protect green spaces under threat from development such as Warren Farm – writer Katie Boyles portrays her hopes and concerns over her local green space in this issue’s Joy of Recording piece. Our database may also support future studies into mental wellbeing as Dr Vikki Houlden reveals in her study of the relationship between people and their local green space using GiGL data. Dr Houlden was able to access GiGL data using a data use licence, as we explain in this issue’s Knowles Knows series.

At the heart of the data that help protect London’s natural environment is the GiGL team. We provide interviews of our staff to help you better connect with and understand the people and personalities behind the work that goes on at GiGL HQ. This issue features interviews from GiGL Community Officer Benjamin Town and the latest addition to the team, GiGL Planning Research Officer Eleni Foui. Everyone in the GiGL team contributes to maintaining and improving the data behind the GiGL data search service. In this issue, we provide an insight into how each GiGLer supports the data that underpin our knowledge of London’s natural landscape.

On a concluding note, Issue 27 marks the final editorial by me as Commissioning Editor of the GiGLer. GiGL’s newsletter will return to the trustful hands of the returning Julie Cox for next summer’s Issue and she will rejoin the partnership team in the process. It’s been a pleasure to represent the voices of the GiGL community through the GiGLer and I will continue to be part of London’s community of nature ambassadors beyond my life at GiGL.

Happy Holidays.

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