The Friends of Richmond Park is a charity dedicated to “the conservation and protection ... of Richmond Park and its peace and natural beauty for the benefit of the public and future generations” and to “advance public education about the Park”.
As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations in 2011 the Friends published The First 50 Years: A History of the Friends of Richmond Park. A paper copy of this 44 page booklet can be collected from the Visitor Centre or downloaded at the bottom of this page.
The Friends is entirely volunteer run; we have 2500 members, of whom 200 do volunteer work with us. Our patrons are Sir David Attenborough, Dame Jacqueline Wilson (the distinguished author of books for young people) and Baroness Kramer of Richmond Park (former MP for the area).
The Friends of Richmond Park was founded in 1961 as a result of public concern about the steady urbanisation of Richmond Park. That continues to be one of our major concerns.
The Friends’ activities include:
•Conservation: we fund conservation projects in the Park (2-3 a year), undertake practical conservation work and work with Park management on conservation.
• Public education: we operate the Park Visitor Centre with its annual 40,00 visitors, organise 25 walks and courses a year open to the public, , provide education activities for young people, and have a Tread Lightly public campaign to encourage greater respect for the Park.
• Volunteering: Friends members staff the Visitor Centre, do practical conservation work, work on a History Project, organise our Discoverers education programme and monitor events in the Park
• Public issues: we are involved in lobbying on issues such as policing, traffic including cycling, local planning issues and control, of sporting events
• Publications: we have published the Friends’ Guide to Richmond Park and Family Trails, and have a very successful annual calendar and Christmas cards. All profits go to conservation projects.
• Communications: we have three printed newsletters a year and a monthly e-mail for members giving news on the Park, a website and Facebook/Twitter
For the future, we see three large threats to the Park:
• Increasing visitor numbers (and the increasing intensity of how they use the Park); the Park is a National Nature Reserve, with a fragile ecology.
• Reduced public funding, which threatens increased commercialisation. In 1961 public funding was 95% of the Park’s income, now it is below 50%.
• Changes to Richmond Park’s ecology and wildlife. Since 1961, the Park has lost many species of wildlife. We have to stop the loss, and indeed reverse it. In addition, half of the Park’s trees are under serious threat from climate change and diseases.
We very much welcome new members. Find out how to join and play a part in the life of the Friends here.