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A kestrel perches elegantly on a fallen tree at Tumulus Field.

Hampstead Heath Management Plan

View the 'Towards a Plan for the Heath 2007-2017 Hampstead Heath Management Plan (4MB).

Biodiversity in the city

Hampstead Heath's mosaic of habitats provides a resource for wildlife just six kilometres from the centre of London. It is of national as well as regional importance. The City of London aims to maintain and extend the Heath's status as one of London's best places for wildlife. Hampstead Heath features a number of priority species identified in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, including the lesser spotted woodpecker, bullfinch, stag beetle and grass snake. The landscape of Hampstead Heath has developed as a direct result of its management and of how people have used it over many years.

Habitats on Hampstead Heath

Since grazing stopped in the last century the largely treeless heathland and agricultural landscape has been replaced in part by expanding woodland and scrub. Also present today are grassland, hedgerows, ponds and wetlands, along with remnant areas of the original heathland.

Small areas of acid grassland are of particular note, with plants such as heath bedstraw, oval sedge and tormentil. Attempts are being made to retain, restore and extend these areas as well as small areas of the rare heathland habitat which gives Hampstead Heath its name.

Trees

There are over 800 identified veteran trees on the Heath. Rare species include wild service tree and midland hawthorn.

Fungi and plants

Over 500 species of fungi have been recorded on Hampstead Heath, including the rare bracket fungus (ganoderma lucidum).

Noteworthy plants include broad leaved helleborine, lady fern, hard fern and lily of the valley (woodland); cowslip, black knapweed, oxeye daisy, devil's-bit scabious and pignut (grassland); marsh marigold, purple loosetrife and water mint (wetland).

Invertebrates

A quarter of Britain's spiders have been found on Hampstead Heath, including the tube-web spider (atypus affinis). 25 species of butterfly, including breeding colonies of purple hairstreak can be seen. 18 species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded at ponds across the Heath, including the white-legged damselfly and the banded demoiselle.

Birds

Over 180 bird species have been recorded in recent times on Hampstead Heath.

Noteworthy birds include lesser spotted woodpecker, whitethroat, garden warbler, jackdaw, stock dove, hobby, great crested grebe, common tern and kingfisher (breeding) and siskin, redwing, fieldfare, swallow, wheatear, woodcock, meadow pipit, shoveler and gadwall (wintering or on migration).

Animals

Hampstead Heath is one of the best places to see bats in London - with Natterer's, Daubenton's, noctule, and all three species of pipistrelle present here. Moles, foxes, hedgehogs and muntjac deer are other mammals found on the Heath. The fascinating and totally harmless grass snake is found at one of its closest locations to the centre of London.

Reptile survey

The City of London is surveying our population of rare grass snakes to help us work out how best to conserve them. If you have seen a snake (or any other reptile) on Hampstead Heath, please email hampstead.heath@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Published:
13 March 2012
Last Modified:
15 November 2017
Author:
David Bentley

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