St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Wild York!

How might York design in nature as infrastructure to become a city resilient to future changes in climate, and nurture the well-being of the people living in it? If you were looking at the city from above, seeing where different types of greenery are, where flood waters arrive and where people live, and imagining new green corridors, car free routes that work for people, places to grow a fruit tree for each child in the city – where would you put them?

None of these things can be dreamed up independently of each other if they are to be ambitious enough in scale to make York thrive in the zero carbon future it’s aimed at a decade from now. Yet who has this holistic view, and how can it be citizen led, so that these decisions which could have huge impacts on peoples lives aren’t made on their behalf? We are focused on including those who are underrepresented to create a complete picture of what people want, need and would be excited by. Without this, these big ideas won’t be fair, and won’t even be effective in their aims.

Integrating nature strategically in cities on a large scale is a beautiful and cheaper way to address missions like flooding, air pollution, better cycling infrastructure, mental health, equality and quality of life, all in one go.

In York we are blessed with dozens of community groups already involving people to make the city a better place. They’re experts in what they’re doing, from food growing to large scale habitat improvement to creating pollinator pathways and greening alleyways: many people are doing their bit in their patch. What if the many people could be many more; and what if the patch were the city as a whole, with it’s links to the surrounding countryside, all working symbiotically to bring green space and its benefits close to everyone, and be a thriving ecosystem for other species as well.

LendLease and our regular volunteers by the finished bee bank

Volunteers from a business away day, Blueberry Academy and regular St Nicks volunteers worked together to build a bee bank

Wild York is starting by making an online interactive map showing all York’s green spaces, what habitat they provide, who looks after them, and what you can do there. It will be live to explore by late summer 2021. If a person wants to get involved with a greening group they can find out what’s going on where and when, and where to take the ideas they have. It can be used to find weekend walks, beautiful and free places for family time, and will help everybody become more familiar with and enjoy the nature close to them.

Longer term, our mission with Wild York is to facilitate this city-scale perspective, not by dictating what should happen, but by enabling exciting collaborative projects to help people get on with what they’re good at. Wild York is here to connect people with projects they can benefit from, acting as the hub which keeps groups up to speed and proactively joins the dots. By getting in touch with groups with tips and ideas, and hosting events where people can get stuck in, or groups can share knowledge and hatch ideas.

A timeline of Wild York milestones:

• Wild York began in the Winter of 2020 and has so far been the collective effort of a local design team along with 20 greening organisations and community groups across the city. These groups have expertise ranging from park maintenance to habitat creation to urban farming.
• The interactive map will be ready to play with and explore by Autumn 2021, helping increase the value of and access to what we already have.
• Subject to funding, the capacity will grow from there, and in 2022 becoming a network to proactively link community, council and business enhancing and adding to our green space and transforming York into an awe-inspiring green city which works for everybody.

Some comments on Wild York:

“Wild York is an amazing initiative that is helping to raise awareness of all the amazing green spaces and nature-based projects taking place across York, many run by community groups and charities. The Friends of Rowntree Park Charity firmly believes that parks and open spaces should be accessible to all and our volunteers work hard to make sure Rowntree Park is just that! Wild York will help improve awareness of other groups’ projects and aims, and the Friends of Rowntree Park will be able to work to support others across the city and hopefully benefit from others’ expertise and help ourselves.” The Friends of Rowntree Park

“We would welcome an interactive map and website such as Wild York propose. It would help us to advertise our presence, communicate with like-minded groups and work together to improve the local environment. River Foss Society.” River Foss Society

“From the point of view of New Earswick Community Garden, it is the inclusion of New Earswick within Wild York that is important. It’s a bit like the need to have connecting corridors for wildlife in that green areas in and around the city need to be connected. Within New Earswick, we have our Community Garden, a project called Community Action for Nature, New Earswick Nature Reserve, a Tree Trail and some smaller projects, all involving volunteers, so it will make a big difference to our connectivity to be included in Wild York.” New Earswick Community Garden

If you would like to find out more contact our Natural Habitats Manager, Jonathan Dent for more information.

This page was last updated 7 Jun 2021