The Bay of Plenty has taken another step towards becoming a greener, more sustainable region by signing the National Park Cities charter in London this week.

The movement aims to apply national park principles and values to urban environments, promoting nature and re-wilding towns and cities as vital to health and wellbeing.

Envirohub Bay of Plenty representatives Laura Wragg and Geoff Canham have been in the UK to support the launch of London's National Park City programme and to sign the charter.

"While the National Park City concept is what we are modelling our programme on, we want to take it beyond just one city to the whole Bay of Plenty," Wragg said.

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Envirohub Bay of Plenty's regional network spans Katikati, Rotorua, Taupō, Tauranga, and Te Puke.

"Essentially, we want to support and enable everyone living here to become greener. We're aiming to give residents the opportunity to become more connected to nature and to enjoy all the benefits that go with that.

"It's about creating more green spaces so we can all access nature closer to where
we live and work," Wragg said.

The first step in the process was undertaking stakeholder engagement across the region, a process that Wragg said has been largely positive.

"People living across the whole region have told us they support the concept – they want greater biodiversity, more areas of green space and to see more native birds and plants in our cities."

Wragg said the programme would develop in the way that was best suited to the region.

"We will work with our communities and with iwi to come up with the right name. This is about creating interest, educating and inspiring and allowing everyone to take part."

The benefits of healthier, greener towns and cities go beyond social and environmental with Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne saying urban green spaces and strong environmental commitments attracted visitors.

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"Travellers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and seeking experiences that allow them to connect deeply to a place.

"We are seeking the types of visitors that will take part in local environmental initiatives, adding to our region's regeneration and leaving our home a better place for future generations," she said.

National Park Cities Charter commitments

• a city which is greener in the long-term than it is today and where people and nature are better connected

• a city which protects its core network of parks and green spaces and where buildings and public spaces aren't defined only by stone, brick, concrete, glass and steel

• a city that is rich with wildlife

• a city where every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors

• a city where all can enjoy high-quality green spaces, clean air, clean waterways and where more people choose to walk and cycle.

People can become involved by emailing bopnationalpark@envirohub.org.nz, visiting
www.bayofplentynationalpark.com or www.envirohub.org.nz

To celebrate the launch of the London National Park City programme, Envirohub will be leading a hikoi to the top of Mauao on Wednesday, July 24 meeting at the Mount Surf Club at 6am.

All are welcome to join. Join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/484305619064535/