Key London Figures

Below are some key facts and figures from GiGL data holdings. Please credit them to “Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC, 2019”.

How green is London?
Roughly 47% of Greater London is ‘green’; 33% of London is natural habitats within open space according to surveyed habitat information (1) and an additional 14% is estimated to be vegetated private, domestic garden land (2).

How much of London is water?
Over 2% of Greater London’s area is blue space (3), such as rivers, canals and reservoirs.

How much of London is garden land?
It has been calculated that 24% of Greater London is private, domestic garden land (4). 14% of this is estimated to be vegetated garden green space (5).

How much of London is open?
More than 60% of Greater London is open (i.e. undeveloped) land. 42% of this is land that has an amenity value or potential amenity value (6). The rest of the open land is domestic gardens.

What is London’s open space used for?
London’s open spaces are multifunctional, both in terms of their ecosystem services and their amenity value for London’s residents. 42% of Greater London can be classified as open space (7). This can be divided into the land use categories displayed in figure 3. Get in touch to access data on more detailed land uses.

Land UseArea (ha)Percentage
Parks And Gardens92945.83%
Natural And Semi-natural Urban Greenspace89605.62%
Green Corridors57083.58%
Outdoor Sports Facilities107736.76%
Amenity64834.07%
Children And Teenagers750.05%
Allotments, Community Gardens And City Farms10210.64%
Cemeteries And Churchyards13670.86%
Other Urban Fringe128538.05%
Civic Spaces1000.06%
Other30771.93%
Unknown78304.91%
Total:6754142.36%

How much of London is designated as Public Open Space?
The London Boroughs can choose to designate specific sites as Public Open Space. These sites account for 17.99% of Greater London (8). It is divided into a hierarchy according to The London Plan (Table 7.2) (9).

Public Open SpaceArea (ha)Percentage of Greater London
Regional Parks*66924.20%
Metropolitan Parks82885.20%
District Parks44522.79%
Local Parks and Open Spaces55803.50%
Small Open Spaces7900.50%
Pocket Parks1360.09%
Linear Open Spaces27451.72%
Total:2868317.99%

*does not currently include Wandle Valley and Colne Valley Regional Parks

How much of London is designated for its value for nature conservation?
Areas of land which are important for their wildlife are designated as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs)(10). There are 1,602 SINCs in Greater London, covering 18.97% of the city’s area (11). There are three tiers, of which the middle is usually divided into two Grades.

Grade Area (ha) Percentage of Greater London
Metropolitan15,689.889.84%
Borough Grade 17,784.424.88%
Borough Grade 24,826.523.02%
Borough (no grade distinction)187.080.12%
Local1,762.381.11%
Total:30250.2818.97%

How many wildlife sites in London have statutory protection?
Greater London has a range of areas afforded statutory protection for their wildlife value:

• Two Special Protection Areas (SPAs): Lee Valley and South West London Waterbodies (12)

• Three Special Areas of Conservation (SACs): Epping Forest, Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common (12)

• Two RAMSAR sites: Lee Valley and South West London Waterbodies (13)

• Two National Nature Reserves: Ruislip Woods and Richmond Park (14)

• 37 Sites of Special Interest (SSSIs) (15). Seven of these are designated for their geology (15)

• 144 Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) (15) (under review)

How much of London is Green Belt?

22% of Greater London (35,126 hectares) is designated as Green Belt (16). More statistics regarding the city’s Green Belt are available here.

How much of London is Metropolitan Open Land?

Almost 10% of Greater London (15,001 hectares) is designated as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL)(17). More statistics regarding the city’s MOL are available here.

1, 3 Figure calculated from GiGL habitat dataset London Survey Methodology data (surveys 1984-2009). The surveys only included spaces above 0.25ha so smaller vegetated areas may not have been considered within this figure.

2, 5 Smith, C., Dawson, D., Archer, J., Davies, M., Frith, M., Hughes, E. and Massini, P., 2011. From green to grey; observed changes in garden vegetation structure in London, 1998-2009; London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London and Greater London Authority. Figure calculated through analysis of colour aerial photographs (Cities Revealed aerial photography ©The GeoInformation Group 2008).

4 Smith, C., Dawson, D., Archer, J., Davies, M., Frith, M., Hughes, E. and Massini, P., 2011. From green to grey; observed changes in garden vegetation structure in London, 1998-2008, London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, and Greater London Authority. Figure calculated using land identified as “private residential gardens” in Ordnance Survey MasterMap® Topography Layer data (updated June 2006).

6 , 7 Figure from GiGL open space dataset (mixed survey dates – figure calculated June 2019). Open space is defined as “undeveloped land which has an amenity value or has potential for an amenity value. The value could be visual, derive from a site’s historical or cultural interest or from the enjoyment of facilities which it provides. It includes both public and private spaces but excludes private gardens.” The data is mixed source; principally from surveys. More information at www.gigl.org.uk/open-spaces.

8 Figure from GiGL open space dataset (mixed survey dates – figure calculated June 2019). Public Open Space designations sources from published borough documents such as Local Development Frameworks or Open Space Strategies, or from provided borough data. More information at www.gigl.org.uk/open-spaces/.

9 The London Plan is the strategic plan for Greater London. Published by the Mayor of London, it sets out an economic, environmental, transport and social framework for development.

10 SINCs are known elsewhere in the country as Local Wildlife Sites. They are identified locally using an agreed set of criteria. More information www.gigl.org.uk/designated-sites/non-statutory-sincs/. Whilst SINCs themselves are a non-statutory designation, many sites have also had additional statutory designations. Designations published in the Sub-Regional Development Frameworks (2006) were also consulted. Where information is not yet available, GiGL derived likely designations from other attributes in the open space dataset. More information at www.gigl.org.uk/open-spaces/public-open-space-categories/.

11 Figures taken from GiGL SINC dataset (figure calculated June 2019). GiGL is the official custodian of information on London’s SINCs. This includes both their citations and boundary information.

12 Data available from data.gov.uk © Natural England. Data last updated August 2018.

13 Data available from data.gov.uk © Natural England. Data last updated July 2018.

14 Data available from data.gov.uk © Natural England. Data last updated July 2018.

15 Figures and SSSI reason for notification from Natural England: https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk (accessed June 2019).

16 Figure from GiGL Green Belt dataset (data collated from the local authorities, accurate and comprehensive as of Feb. 2018). GiGL update this data on an annual basis.

17 Figure from GiGL Metropolitan Open Land dataset (data collated from the local authorities, accurate and comprehensive as of Feb. 2018). GiGL update this data on an annual basis.