The management of London’s biggest park (790 acres/ 320 hectares) involves balancing recreational activities with nature conservation. Stressed out city dwellers can relax in a rural landscape, composed of a rich variety of habitats, including meadows, where grass is allowed to grow long to favour butterflies, and woodlands, where all three of Britain’s woodpeckers nest. Outdoor swimming is a popular activity on the Heath, while by one of the 25 ponds a bank has been constructed to encourage kingfishers to breed. Up on Parliament Hill kite-fliers enjoy spectacular views of London and might also see Kestrels and Sparrowhawks hunting.
Encouraging respectful attitudes from the wide range of visitors is an important part of looking after the Heath. There is a particular problem with the amount of rubbish left behind by night-time pleasure-seekers in West Heath, for example, famed as a safe cruising zone. The “Heath & Hampstead Society” proposes the following:
“The Society is . . . working with the City to come up with new ways to manage the problem, for example, putting solar lamps in trees to power flashing beacons on litter bins during the night.”