Birmingham, UK

Biophilic Cities Member since

Birmingham, a one-time industrial giant in England’s West Midlands, has pioneered a comprehensive, integrated approach to environmental and health-related problems. Much of this new philosophy can be seen in the Green Living Spaces Plan, which includes a proposal for creating access to Birmingham’s impressive network of rivers and canals, making it the basis for a citywide grid of trails and pathways. Revitalization of the canal system in the city center has increased visitors who come to enjoy the waterfront atmosphere.  Despite the city’s reputation as a gray industrial locale, it has ample green space with many local nature reserves, like the Moseley Bog (reputed to be a childhood haunt of J.R.R. Tolkien), as well as the  the 1,000-hectare Sutton Park (the first urban National Nature Reserve in the United Kingdom). Birmingham has declared its intent to be the United Kingdom’s first “natural capital city,” and has been a leading city in developing “natural capital metrics” to evaluate the ecological impacts of development projects.  Birmingham has declared its intention to be green and sustainable city, and is a leader in making connections between health and nature.

City Contact: Nick Grayson
  • Birmingham Green Commission: The Vision of the Birmingham Green Commission pulls together three key strands that will make Birmingham a leading green city: Planning framework and policy; Sustainable energy and CO2 reduction; and The green economy. Birmingham has an ambitious target of a 60% reduction in total CO2 emissions by 2027, against 1990 levels. The Green Commission’s priorities are: To accelerate investment in how we heat and power the city; Create more local renewable energy; Improve the way we travel and get around; and Widen our investment in building energy efficiency programmes.
  • Green Living Spaces Plan: The Green Living Spaces Plan has been written to secure, enhance and ensure the effective long term maintenance of the city’s natural green and water spaces, which are so essential for an adapted and healthy city.
  • Nature Conservation Strategy:  This strategy, adopted in 1996, provides comprehensive advice and guidance for the conservation of the city’s biodiversity through preserving open space and park land.  
  • Birmingham and Black Country Biodiversity Action Plan: This plan, written in 2010 by Birmingham and Black Biodiversity Partnership, a consortium of organizations including the Birmingham City Council, aims for a diverse and natural Birmingham and Black Country, where we are connected to our wildlife and landscape; healthy, sustainable communities and local livelihoods, working with nature and securing its future.
  • Liveable Cities Project aims to transform the engineering of cities to deliver global and societal wellbeing within the context of low carbon living and resource security through developing realistic and radical engineering that demonstrates the concept of an alternative future.
  • Active Parks: Following on from the huge success of the pilot during summer 2013, Active Parks rolled out to 50 Birmingham Parks in 2014 and were going from strength to strength in 2015 and rolling out to even more parks with even more activities! Between April and October, the citizens of Birmingham will be able to participate in a wide range of physical activities sure to improve health and wellbeing whilst having a lot of fun! There will be all sorts on offer to suit every member of the family – from walks and rambles, running, cycling, Zumba, Tai Chi, sports like rounders, basketball, boules, tennis, rowing and canoeing to other activities like gardening, conservation and bushcraft.
  • Green Commission’s ‘Making Birmingham Greener Healthier” awards: These are annual community awards, including a biophilic category. The awards, co-ordinated by the Birmingham Green Commission and sponsored by Veolia, recognise the efforts of people, organisations, community groups and education establishments who have worked hard to promote sustainability; made energy efficiency savings; supported sustainable travel; reduced waste; promoted health and wellbeing initiatives; made space for nature and worked to improve the environment for the people living and working within the city.
  • EcoRecord collects, collates and makes available information about the wildlife, wildlife sites and habitats of Birmingham and the Black Country and currently has over 500,000 species records on its database. Volunteers can enter records of observed species and habitats into the database


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