Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most popular open spaces. Its mosaic of habitats provides a resource for wildlife just 6km from Trafalgar Square. At 791 acres it is spread across three London boroughs (Barnet, Camden and Haringey), and is preserved in its semi-natural state by North London Open Spaces (NLOS), a division of the City of London Corporation. It is an island of beautiful ‘urban countryside’ whose magic lies not only in its rich wildlife and extensive sports and recreational opportunities, but also in its proximity and accessibility to millions of people. As a Site of Metropolitan Importance, Hampstead Heath provides buffer land to the neighbouring SSSI (English Heritage’s Kenwood Estate) and is of national as well as regional importance, hosting a number of priority species identified in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, including lesser spotted woodpecker, bullfinch, stag beetle and grass snake. The heaths tree population contains a number of older veteran trees. Typically these are relicts of former boundaries, many now engulfed in woodland of more modern origin. Over 800 old trees were identified by volunteers in a survey during 2006-7, of which 400 – 500 are veteran oak, beech, wild service & field maple, a handful of those can be classed as ancient.
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