Birmingham may have more green space than any other city in Europe, but it is constantly under threat, and not always easy to access. This Sunday, to bring home the vital importance of keeping, extending and maintaining it, members of more than 30 organisations will walk or cycle along various ‘green’ routes into the city centre. The guided walks and rides are starting from four different places (Nechells Wellbeing Centre, Handsworth Park Community Garden, Northfield Ecocentre and Small Heath Wellbeing Centre) and will finish at City Centre Gardens for a community picnic, which will be opened by the Lord Mayor.

As part of Birmingham Heritage Week, the event will highlight the many green routes in and around the City, and where they could be improved. Georgia Stokes, CEO, The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and Black Country and Greener Birmingham Coalition Co-ordinator said: ‘ It’s great that Birmingham is a green city – but that’s no good to people who can’t access quality green space. This is the only natural heritage event planned as part of Birmingham Heritage Week. It’s a brilliant opportunity to discover a new walk or ride near you, meet the volunteers who manage community green space and help the Greener Birmingham Coalition map the places that need improving and connecting .’

People can join the walks and rides as they progress, or go straight to the picnic at one o’clock. Activities are planned at a number of places on the routes to celebrate the unsung heroes whose voluntary efforts help to maintain and improve places such as parks, canals and woodlands. At the picnic there will be free activities, including sports, nature trails and a smoothie bike. These will be provided by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, Active Parks, the City’s Ranger Service and GroundWorks. The Real Junk Food Project will have food to share that would otherwise have been thrown out by shops and restaurants.

As well as being fun, the event is to remind us all that Birmingham’s natural heritage is as important as its social and industrial heritage. Well looked after for instance, the greenspaces and their connections could save the NHS more than £100M per year, and help to reduce deaths from air pollution. Study after study shows the positive effects of access to nature on people’s mental and physical health.

Full details of the walks and rides can be found at www.bbcwildlife.org.uk