Enhancing biodiversity in Hampstead

In a column in the Ham&High, former Forum chair Janine Griffis discussed measures in the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan to improve biodiversity.

The full text is below.

One of the most serious side effects of climate change is the loss of biodiversity. Plant and animal life struggles to survive in a changing climate. This is happening not only in the rainforests but in our own back gardens.

An important strategy for helping plant and animal life to adapt and survive is to provide biodiversity corridors. These connect isolated natural habitats, allowing wildlife to move between them to find food, shelter, and mates.

The Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan identifies a number of these corridors and resists development that harms them. The Plan, which was approved in a public referendum in 2018, sits alongside the Camden Local Plan, helping to determine what gets built in Hampstead and how it functions, everything from small renovations to extensions to large new buildings.

The Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum is currently revising the Plan to strengthen its planning policies concerning sustainability and biodiversity.

Hampstead Heath, along with the biodiversity corridors, supports a remarkable diversity of plants and wildlife. But these islands of diversity cannot exist in isolation. If corridors are not linked together, chances for plants and animals to survive are reduced. We hope to address this by identifying more extensive biodiversity networks that could connect the corridors within Hampstead and beyond and reduce fragmentation.

The connections help to maintain gene flow between populations and allow species to shift and adapt to changing conditions. This helps to maintain genetic diversity and health.

In Hampstead, we can identify areas of opportunity between the corridors where we would like to see more attention given to biodiversity. This could mean something as simple as planting larger street trees or encouraging bio-friendly gardens or plantings or providing routes for hedgehogs.

Improving biodiversity can also help to fight climate change by sequestering carbon, absorbing and releasing moisture, and reflecting solar radiation. The networks will help to shore up the resilience of ecosystems in the face of a changing climate. The forum will soon begin a new round of consultation with residents on whether they favour these and other changes to the Hampstead Neighbourhood Plan.

If you would like to be kept informed, please email us at . We would like to hear from you.

Janine Griffis leads on planning matters for the Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum.

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