The March Project of the month is the Edinburgh and Glasgow Urban Nature Maps created by Urban Good and Rob Bushby with support from a range of partners and funders.

2,000 free maps for schools, health settings, youth and community groups in each city were created and printed. It’s been possible with collaboration from numerous individuals with expertise and insights, and support from key funders such as Paths for All ‘Smarter Choices, Smarter Places’, Scottish Forestry, Glasgow City Council, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and Edinburgh Geological Society.

The maps are also available from Urban Good here:

Edinburgh Urban Nature Map 

Glasgow Urban Nature Map

Urban nature map explained

The maps show Edinburgh and Glasgow as a cities of nature, bringing green and blue spaces to the fore – the parks, woodlands, playing fields, nature reserves, rivers, and coastline. It incorporates symbols marking places to walk and cycle, take in views, and geodiversity sites. It shows open space rather than roads and buildings.

On the reverse is an atlas of information, graphics, and ideas. How is Edinburgh’s 55% of open space used? How many bee species have been spotted at the Botanic Gardens? How much does the River Clyde drop in height from its source? What does the geology look like: in plan, section, and timeline? How might you bring ‘five ways to wellbeing’ into your work? What can you do for nature in your garden, on your street, or on your windowsill?

The maps aim to stimulate us to see the city differently: to think more deeply about the cities as a places, and our place in them. It’s a resource to encourage more awareness and more action for people and nature.

Why do we need urban nature maps?

In launching the maps Rob Bushby from Urban Good writes:

In urban settings we often separate ourselves from nature. It’s an ‘other’ thing, in many ways. We box it off through contemporary labelling and everyday references and rituals.

The ‘best’ of it - national parks, nature reserves - is somewhere we define by a boundary and take trips to. It’s often outsourced to people, providers and programmes to introduce it, care for it and make sense of it for us. It’s put in an environment or conservation ‘sector’, a corridor, a belt.

  • Where does ‘the countryside’ start and end?
  • What are our ‘city limits’?
  • Can a city be a landscape?
  • What does nearby nature look, sound, feel, smell and taste like?
  • And how does it become part of everyday lives?
An Urban Nature map is a provocation, if not a comprehensive response, in relation to questions such as these. It’s a visual tool for discussion and thinking about perceptions and identity. Its legend identifies green space, play space, food space, blue space, protected space, medical land, geodiversity sites and other points of nature-note.

Amongst a profusion of map-apps and small screen graphics it’s a big paper fold-out map, to open up for a visual meander, to gather around and delve into. It can remind residents and visitors that they don’t need to leave the city to find and experience nature.

Urban Nature Atlas and activities

The reverse of each map  is utilised for activities, information and graphics to show a city-wide ecosystem of trees, pollinators, geology, ways to wellbeing, heritage, walking and cycling routes, water catchments – with a bit of poetry thrown in too.

There's an invitation to explore, The Five Ways to wellbeing explained (Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, Give) a breakdown of the open space of the cities, focus on trees and the blue spaces of the cities - their habitat and species.

Edinburgh Urban Nature Atlas

Glasgow Urban Nature Atlas