London Rewilding: Mile End Park

Nestled in the heart of East London, this block-wide strip of green space is a real example of the beaty that giving lungs to a city offers.

Mile End Park is a unique space. Set in one of the main residential hubs of East London, just between the hulking monoliths of Canary Wharf, and the modern developments of Stratford, it highlights a unique way city's can make use of limited space to produce natural oasises. Oh and practice some rewilding too!

Mile End Park Pine Copse
A copse of pines, that very quickly leaves you feeling you're in a whole new world.

The park itself is no wider than a single city block, but serves as a long run, a stretching arm through the heart of East London. From the North it reaches Bethnal Green, beginning just below Victoria Park, it then stretches eagerly south, just minutes from Canary Wharf, and a brisk walk down to the River. It is fed by Regent's canal, which runs as a constant alongside it. In total the park, despite being narrow, is an 80 acre space - perfect for some smaller-scale rewilding. Almost the same size as LettsSafari's Dawlish Park.

Constructed out of an industrial area that had been destroyed in World War 2, Mile End Park wasn't properly consecrated until the turn of the 21st century. Thus it is a fantastic example of the way modern urban green spaces have begun to account for climate change and rewilding. The moment you arrive you feel captured by nature, nature that is given the space to grow and sustain itself. From the pathways, to the verges, Mile End Park does some excellent work marrying rewilded spaces with human life and architecture.

Mile End Park, Bush
Pathways are well maintained through Mile End Park, but in the spaces for nature, nature is left to thrive.

I did not enter the park the conventional way, instead, too excited with the prospect of getting to view something increasingly common in Europe, but as yet still rare in the UK, I began my journey at the parks' Green Bridge. A Green Bridge is a fairly innovative concept, that focuses on providing rewilded natural corridors for nature to keep a solid run over the human world. The one in Mile End Park is London's first.

It's an exciting feature, that seeing from the road highlights its importance. It connects the park, allowing humans, and more importantly, animals to pass through the long strip of Green space without risking life and limb crossing the busy road. It helps transform Mile End Park into a green lung for the city, uninterrupted.

Mile End Park, Green Bridge
The view of the Green Bridge from the street, a overflowing with nature, sun and life.

The Park itself practices many of the essential principles we preach at LettsSafari. In particular, the verges and bracken areas are left wild, for the most part. The park does maintain the verges to their appropriate levels, but beyond mowing simple strips for humans to walk over, Mile End Park's natural spaces are just that, natural. As though you were travelling through Exeter's Capability Brown Gardens, there is rich biodiversity, and plant life is left to its own devices.

As a result, the park is teeming with animals and bugs. We visited Mile End Park during London's brief heatwave (peaking at around 28C), and nevertheless birds and squirrels were easily spotted. Even easier to spot were the insects, from butterflies and moths, to caterpillars and bees, all thriving in a nutrient rich space with naturally improving soil quality.

Mile End Park, Covered Space
Paths are maintained, available for humans to walk through, but the spaces between are left wild, left to green freely.

In addition, the park also follows a couple of LettsSafari's specific approaches. In particular, trees that have been knocked down due to disease or storm damage are left to rot back into the ground, allowed to lie over the ground. This is important as any piece of wood wider than a half a meter in diameter can still effectively sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

Mile End Park, Collapsed Trunk
A collapsed trunk in Mile End Park is chopped up and allowed to rot back into the ground.

They also make use of rewilding habitats. Mile End Park has the three core habitats, wild grassland, which families and visitors can make use of for picnics or sport; wilded scrub made up of rich beds filled with diverse plant life; and open woodland, from the pines you can see over the green bridge, to a rich ecological centre which houses thick copses of tall diverse trees.

However, as a result of Regents Canal, Mile End Park also has an aquatic habitat that it surrounds with terraced gardens to create a rich pond environment. The canal eventually runs back into the Limehouse Basin, and then into the river. The canal provides life to the terrace gardens which have the richest biodiversity in the park, over 200 species of plant life and countless bird and bug life call it home.

Mile End Park, Canalside
The canal running alongside the park, providing vibrant life along its banks.

The park also essentially serves as an educational space informing the public about ecological diversity. A quarter of Mile End Park is dedicated to the "Ecological Park", a rich space just north of the Green Bridge, which houses a lake complex, providing natural spaces that have contributed homes to 45 species of bird life, as well as over 400 species of beetle, and 170 species of spider.

All of this, hidden in between the layers of London's built up space. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Mile End Park is the way it makes you feel so outside of the city. And then it shocks you with brief moments of London, subtle reminders that you remain in the metropolis.

Mile End Park Green Bridge Above, overlooking Canary Wharf.
The peak of the Green Bridge, leaving you feeling like you're out in the countryside, while you peer on the modern industrial experiment in the UK, Canary Wharf, in the distance.

Overall, Mile End Park represents an essential example of all we have advocated for here at LettsSafari. Walking around it reminded us of being in LettsSafari's Dawlish Park. We've always insisted that Dawlish Park can be replicated as a municipal park, an essential way that we can marry rewilding with urban living. Mile End Park is living proof that that is true, it's rich evidence of the importance of LettsSafari existing- we must get more spaces just like this. By subscribing to LettsSafari we can.

Build rewilding safari parks and gardens with us.

At LettsSafari, we believe in the power of collective action in rewilding to create a sustainable future. That's why we're delighted to introduce GreenTeam, a new business subscription package designed to help companies demonstrate their commitment to the environment while offering valuable benefits to their employees. What could be more exciting than building new rewilding safari parks and gardens with us?

GreenTeam People Image #2

Empowering Your Employees

Based on over 15 years of rewilding know-how, GreenTeam gives your team access to content and guides, helping them transform personal and communal spaces into thriving ecosystems. This not only enhances their well-being but also promotes a positive work-life balance. Engaging with nature reduces stress and boosts productivity, making it a win-win for your business.

Fostering Environmental Responsibility

Encouraging employees to engage in wild gardening, nature restoration and sustainable practices fosters a culture of environmental stewardship. With GreenTeam, your business and its employees can learn how to set up mini LettsSafari parks in gardens, green spaces, and community areas, inspiring broader environmental responsibility.

Making a Tangible Impact

And with every GreenTeam subscription, and in addition to any work undertaken by your employees, your company also contributes directly to the rewilding projects managed by LettsSafari across our own rewildng safari parks:

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Comprehensive Subscription Features

GreenTeam is available at a group discount with customised options for businesses with 1,000+ employees. Your employees will gain access to exclusive content, events focused on sustainable gardening and nature restoration, and personalised advice from LettsSafari experts. Plus you'll get regular updates on the LettsSafari rewilding projects funded by your company. 

Getting Started 

Sign up for GreenTeam today and lead your business towards a greener, more sustainable future. Together, we can transform our workplace and private spaces into beacons of environmental stewardship and positive change.

Join GreenTeam and make a lasting impact on our planet. Learn more and subscribe.

Collective Action, Powerful Impact.

The future of rewilding is full of possibilities. As the urgency of ecological restoration becomes undeniable, this innovative approach is poised to play a transformative role in healing our planet. Let's delve into the exciting possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.

Scaling Up: Expanding the Reach of Rewilding

One key aspect of rewilding's future lies in scaling up. While successful projects exist, the scale of the ecological crisis necessitates a more ambitious approach. Here's what we can expect:

Evolving Strategies: Adapting to a Changing World

Rewilding needs to be adaptable to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. Here are some key considerations:

New Frontiers for Rewilding: Embracing Innovation

The future of rewilding might hold unexpected surprises and innovative solutions. Here are some fascinating possibilities:

Challenges and Opportunities: Paving the Way for Success

The future of rewilding is not without its hurdles. Here are some challenges that will need to be addressed:

Embracing a Rewilded Future

The future of rewilding offers a path toward a healthier planet teeming with life. By harnessing innovation, fostering collaboration, and adapting to a changing world, this movement can become a cornerstone of environmental restoration. As we embrace a new era of rewilding, we have the potential to create a future where humans and nature can thrive in harmony. 

Be part of the future of rewilding! Support LettsSafari and see the impact of your actions. For every 10 paid subscribers, we plant a tree each year; for every 100, we release a wild animal; and for every 10,000, we open a new park each year. Subscribers receive weekly updates on our work, plus wider rewilding articles as well hints and tips to use in their own spaces. All for just £45 per year! Subscribe TODAY!

The story of rewilding is not just about restoring landscapes; it's a chronicle of evolving human consciousness and our relationship with the natural world. While the term itself is relatively recent, the seeds of this philosophy were sown much earlier. Let's embark on a journey through time, exploring the key milestones that shaped the rewilding movement we know today.

Early Influences: A Legacy of Conservation Thought

The 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the rise of prominent conservation figures like John Muir and Aldo Leopold. Their writings and activism focused on preserving pristine wilderness areas and fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world. While not explicitly using the term "rewilding," their ideas laid the groundwork for the movement that would emerge later.

The 1970s: Wilderness Recovery and the Birth of Rewilding Ideas

The 1970s marked a turning point. Conservation biologists like Michael Soulé and Reed Noss began to question the effectiveness of simply protecting isolated pockets of land. They advocated for a more holistic approach, one that focused on restoring entire ecosystems and the natural processes that sustained them. This concept, initially called "wilderness recovery," is considered the intellectual foundation of modern rewilding.

The 1980s: Coining the Term and Defining the Core Principles

The term "rewilding" first appeared in print in the late 1980s, popularised by members of the grassroots environmental organisation Earth First! This marked a crucial shift. "Rewilding" aimed beyond preservation, emphasising the active restoration of wildness and ecological functioning. Soulé and Noss further refined the concept with their influential "cores, corridors, and carnivores'' framework. This emphasised the importance of large, protected core areas, habitat corridors for wildlife movement, and the reintroduction of keystone predators like wolves, all vital for restoring ecological balance.

The 1990s: Defining Success Stories and Confronting Challenges

The 1990s witnessed the first significant rewilding projects gaining momentum. The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is a landmark case study. Predators helped control elk populations, leading to the regeneration of vegetation and a healthier ecosystem. This success story demonstrated the potential of rewilding to achieve a positive cascade effect. However, the decade also highlighted challenges. Social acceptance wasn't always guaranteed. Concerns from local communities about potential conflicts with wildlife or economic impacts required careful consideration and community engagement.

The 21st Century: Expanding Horizons and Evolving Approaches

The 21st century has seen the rewilding movement rapidly evolve. The focus has expanded beyond national parks and large reserves. Urban rewilding has emerged, transforming cityscapes with green roofs, native plant gardens, and efforts to reconnect fragmented urban ecosystems. And small-scale rewilding, pioneered by LettsSafari, is becoming the fastest growing section as the general public become more aware of climate change and want to get involved.

Furthermore, technological advancements like drone surveys and ecological modelling have become valuable tools for planning and monitoring rewilding projects. 

Global Recognition and Looking Ahead

From Europe to South America, Africa, and Asia, the movement is gaining traction, fostering international collaboration and knowledge sharing. The future of rewilding lies in addressing climate change and its impact on ecosystems. Rewilding projects can play a crucial role in increasing ecosystem resilience and mitigating the effects of a warming planet.

A Movement Full of Promise

The history of rewilding is a testament to our evolving understanding of our relationship with nature. From early conservation ideals to the active restoration philosophy it embodies today, rewilding offers a powerful solution for a planet in need of healing. As the movement continues to mature and gather support, the future holds immense promise for restoring ecosystems, fostering thriving biodiversity, and securing a healthy planet for generations to come.Be part of the rewilding revolution! Support LettsSafari and see the impact of your actions. Our subscribers receive weekly updates on the rewilding projects they support, wider rewilding articles as well hints and tips to use at home. All for just £35 per year. Subscribe TODAY!

In the face of a rapidly changing planet and dwindling biodiversity, both rewilding and conservation emerge as crucial strategies for protecting the natural world. While their ultimate goal – a healthy, functioning planet – remains the same, the approaches taken by these two philosophies differ significantly.  Understanding these distinctions can help us appreciate the unique strengths each brings to the table.

Conservation: A Guardian Approach

Conservation is a well-established practice with a focus on protecting and managing existing ecosystems and endangered species. Imagine conservation as a dedicated park ranger, diligently safeguarding a treasured wilderness area. Here are some key features of a conservation approach:

Rewilding: A Hands-Off Philosophy

Rewilding takes a more hands-off approach, aiming to restore natural processes and allow ecosystems to heal on their own terms. Think of rewilding as a skilled gardener, nurturing the soil and encouraging the natural growth of a diverse and thriving garden. Here's what sets rewilding apart:

Finding Harmony: When Rewilding and Conservation Collaborate

While their approaches differ, rewilding and conservation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can be powerful allies working in tandem to achieve a healthier planet. Here are some ways they can complement each other:

Making the Right Choice: When to Use Each Approach

The choice between rewilding and conservation often depends on the specific situation:

The Road to a Healthier Planet: Embracing Both Rewilding and Conservation

The future of our planet depends on our ability to protect and restore the natural world. Both rewilding and conservation provide crucial tools in this fight. By understanding the unique strengths of each approach and embracing their potential synergy, we can create a world where nature thrives and future generations inherit a healthy and vibrant planet.

Be part of the rewilding revolution! Support LettsSafari and see the impact of your actions. Our subscribers receive weekly updates on the rewilding projects they support, wider rewilding articles as well hints and tips to use at home. All for just £35 per year. Subscribe TODAY! :

Rewilding offers a compelling array of solutions that extend far beyond simply helping wildlife. Here's a closer look at some of the key benefits:

From Yellowstone to Your Back Garden: Examples of Rewilding in Action

Rewilding is no longer a theoretical concept; it's being implemented with remarkable success in a variety of environments around the world:

Become a Rewilding Champion! Support LettsSafari and see the impact of your actions. Our subscribers receive weekly updates on the rewilding projects they support, wider rewilding articles as well hints and tips to use at home. All for just £35 per year. Subscribe TODAY! :

The natural world is in a state of crisis. Habitat loss, climate change, and human intervention have pushed countless species towards extinction, disrupting the delicate balance of ecosystems that sustain all life, including our own. But amidst these challenges, a powerful movement is emerging: rewilding.

Rewilding: A Philosophy of Restoration

Rewilding is more than just planting trees or creating wildlife sanctuaries. It's a comprehensive approach to ecological restoration that aims to heal damaged landscapes and restore natural processes.  At its core, rewilding seeks to:

The Benefits of Rewilding

Rewilding offers a multitude of benefits that extend far beyond helping wildlife. Here are some key advantages:

Putting Theory into Practice: Examples of Rewilding

Rewilding is being implemented in a variety of ways around the world. Here are a few examples:

Be part of the rewilding revolution! Support LettsSafari and see the impact of your actions. Our subscribers receive weekly updates on the rewilding projects they support, wider rewilding articles as well hints and tips to use at home. All for just £35 per year. Subscribe TODAY! :

LettsSafari Logo, a grey Letts with an orange Safari.
Collective Action. Powerful Impact
LettsSafari Logo, a grey Letts with an orange Safari.
Collective Action. Powerful Impact