London's newest national nature reserve was unveiled in Croydon last week.

Dignitaries and members of the public gathered at Farthing Downs on the hottest day of the year to mark the opening of South London Downs, covering 417 hectares in Coulsdon which are protected from development. 

Jointly managed by Croydon Council and the City of London, the new partnership will improve land management in the area, boosting wildlife, creating a space for people to learn about and connect with nature.

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The South London Downs is London's newest National Nature Reserve

Marian Spain, interim Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “I would like to thank the City of London Corporation and the Croydon Council for their hard work, determination and vision which has made this NNR a reality.

“Our National Nature Reserves are at the heart of nature recovery. They are reservoirs for wildlife that can enhance and connect areas, beyond boundaries, to benefit wildlife and people.

"South London Downs NNR is central to nature recovery in South London.

"It will make a huge contribution to making London greener, healthier and wilder, demonstrating why London really is a National Park City.”

The site includes 152.5 hectares of 'sites of special scientific interest' and opens up recreational opportunities for Croydon’s 385,000 residents and those living nearby.

The opening event involved guided tours of the area, charcoal burning, yoga sessions and a chance to meet the downland sheep.

Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Croydon Council, said: “The new Natural Nature Reserve is an unparalleled public green space accessible to all of our residents.

"It was fantastic to see people enjoying the activities and the landscape during the South London Downs Discovery Day.

"I’m proud Natural England have recognised the expertise and care Croydon has put into caring for the site. I’m looking forward to working with the City of London Corporation to preserve this iconic downland for future generations.”

The City Corporation protects and conserves 18 green spaces in London and south east England and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile, including important wildlife habitats, sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves.

They are protected from being built on by special legislation. 

Newly recognised as an ‘Approved Body’ with powers to manage the National Nature Reserve, Croydon Council manages 127 parks and green spaces across the borough.