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the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Interview, Tanvi Desai

Tanvi Desai, GiGL Database Officer

Tanvi is one of GiGL’s Database Officers. She delivers work to review, manage and develop GiGL’s open space and habitat databases. This includes collating data in partnership with local authorities and land managers and coordinating steering from stakeholders. She also maintains information and models predicted changes relating to areas of deficiency in access to public open space.

Town or countryside?

The countryside is lovely for a break, but I’m a city person through and through.

Summer or winter?

Summer

Early bird or night owl?

Early bird

Outdoors or indoors?

Outdoors

Plants or animals?

Plants (without plants we’d have no animals!)

What species is closest to your heart and why?

Frogs, because I used to raise them from tadpoles when I was a kid, and there are so many frogs with interesting colours, shapes and habits.

What is your favourite Greater London open space and why?

Caledonian Park has been my (re)discovery of lockdown. It has beautiful (small) wooded spaces, community gardens and orchard, a café, and a children’s play area. It is also a park with loads of history: it was the starting point for the London march in support of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Despite living within 10 minutes’ walk of the park all my life, I never went because for most of that time it was very rundown, but following a grant and input from the local community it is now a lovely space that is very well used by locals.

What has been your most formative experience working with the natural environment? And what did you learn then that you keep with you today?

Not having a background in biology or ecology, I’d have to say volunteering at the Calthorpe Community Garden which helped me to understand the range of services an urban green space can offer the local community.

Seeing the Bosco Verticale in Milan really inspired me to start thinking about the imaginative ways that green can be added to urban environments. The experience encouraged me to take on an MSc in Environment and Sustainability, where I focussed on the value and potential of London’s small green spaces (particularly the patches of grass around buildings). I learnt a lot about the many environmental, social, medical and economic benefits of urban greenspace.

What’s your role at GiGL?

I’m a Database Officer. I lead on managing the open spaces dataset and help out with other core GiGL datasets.

What’s been your most enjoyable GiGL task and why

I have enjoyed using my existing experience, together with new skills I’m learning, to add value to GiGL’s open spaces dataset. I have also really enjoyed working with our partners at the Big Green London Map to promote publicly accessible greenspaces.

What made you want to work for a Local Environmental Records Centre?

It gives me the opportunity to bring my experience of developing and delivering data services in the social and economic sciences to recording environmental information for London; it’s something which I believe is vital for the future of our city.

London has a lot to offer someone looking to learn more about wildlife and open spaces. What one thing would you advise people to explore?

I would advise people to really explore their local area: take paths you wouldn’t usually follow, explore spaces you wouldn’t normally go to, keep your eye out for small spaces you might usually overlook! Small parks can offer wonderful opportunities for watching wildlife, and even tree pits, window boxes and front gardens can contain beautiful plants and splashes of colour at this grey time of year. Let us know what you find via our online form.

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