Report of Executive Director, Environment.
Members received a report of the Executive Director, Environment, setting out a series of proposals for future grassland management on Hampstead Heath in response to the City of London’s 2020 Climate Action Strategy, nature recovery and the biodiversity emergency.
A Member (Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association) asked in what circumstances would less than annual cutting be considered appropriate and whether grazing was an issue. An officer commented that there was some overlap with some areas concerning grazing and the cutting regime would be dependent on the strength of the grass as some areas were in enriched zones. Members were informed that the annual cutting of grass would also produce a saving on fuel.
A Member (Heath Hands) said the initiative was excellent and in line with the City of London agreeing to reach net zero by 2027, it was suggested that the department may want to consider implementing the 7.2 hectares across the Heath for lowland meadow creation. An officer noted that strategy implementation had already started, and an audit had been completed from scopes one and two which showed emissions were already down from 2020’s levels, however, this was still a big challenge.
A Member (London Wildlife Trust) advised that Consultative Committee be mindful concerning fires and that decisions may need to be taken were there to be extended periods of high temperatures. They felt that cuts may need to be taken earlier in advance than may have been preferable. The Member asked what monitoring would take place as referred to in the report. The Assistant Director confirmed monitoring would be done by the City of London’s ecologist with methodology yet to be agreed upon surrounding species diversity.
A Member (Highgate Society) suggested that rotational cutting could address the issues raised with fire risk. Concerning diversity, the Member also asked whether the loss of grassland between the south meadow could be addressed. The Assistant Director said there was a constant battle of grass versus woodland, with woodland taking hold despite the departments' attempts to arrest the process.
A Member (South End Green Association) said they welcomed the initiative and noted that it was important to monitor erosion issues
RESOLVED – That Members receive the report and provide feedback.