London's Royal Parks are of huge ecological importance. Home to hundreds of thousands of trees and plants and a wealth of wildlife including rare and important species, and around 5,000 different species of insects, the parks play a pivotal role in the biodiversity of the city.
Mission: Invertebrate is a project from the Royal Parks that puts invertebrate conservation at the heart of the parks’ biodiversity strategy. Through the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Mission: Invertebrate is conducting expert research and citizen science to discover and map invertebrate populations, creating and improving wildlife habitats throughout the parks to help those populations thrive, and providing opportunities for tens of thousands of visitors to learn more about the roles these industrious ‘minibeasts’ play in our parks and our wider ecosystems.
Mission: Invertebrate’s More Than Bugs Trails are a series of self-led nature walks, available on smartphone app and as downloadable PDFs. They bring together the different Mission: Invertebrate project strands for visitors to discover more about the importance of invertebrate conservation to the sustainability of our green spaces.
There are six trails across five of the central parks, all of which take in Mission: Invertebrate’s habitat creation works from the past four years. From wildflower meadows to loggeries and reedbeds, visitors can learn about the invertebrates that call these habitats home, and identify some of the bees, bugs and butterflies they might spot there. Trails range from short jaunts for little legs, with games and play-on sculptures for the youngest visitors and their families to more far-ranging opportunities to discover areas of the parks off the beaten track.
Use of London’s parks increased 160% during lockdown, and 62% of Londoners think protecting and enhancing green spaces should be a higher priority after the lockdown . As the country emerges from covid restrictions, the More Than Bugs Trails are a fantastic way for visitors to connect with nature, learning about aspects of their beloved green spaces that they might not previously have encountered.
Players have raised over £3.5 million for the Royal Parks.