London is planning to plant two million trees by 2025, increasing greenery by 5%, in an effort to combat rises in summer temperature during this century. Temperatures could rise by 3.9C by 2080, with the hottest days soaring to 6C to 10C above the present records. London suffers from the “urban heat island effect” in which buildings absorb and release heat, maintaining a higher temperature in cities than surrounding areas, and so it will be more affected by global warming than the South-east. However, research done in Manchester suggests that a 10% increase in trees in a city can offset the higher temperatures predicted. Other plans involve green roofs and featuring waterproofing and drainage layers topped with soil and plants. The Guardian
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.”