Agenda item

Hampstead Heath's Hedges and Their Management


The Hampstead Heath Ecologist introduced the report on Hampstead Heath’s hedges and their management. She noted that she had surveyed the hedges on the Heath throughout 2012 and part of this process had meant defining what constituted a hedge. Of the definition adopted within the report, over 7km of hedges existed on the Heath, but this rose to 20km if a looser interpretation was applied. She concluded by noting that the landscape of the Heath, including its hedges, had changed significantly during the past century.  A ten-year management plan had been drawn up, which was appended to the report.


In response to a comment from Richard Sumray that he found it hard to identify within the report the development of new, and the restoration of existing hedges, the Hampstead Heath Ecologist replied that it was extremely difficult to restore a hedge that had declined. She added that new hedges had been installed on the Heath in the past, particularly around the Bull Path, and that a balance had to be struck in maintaining the natural aspect of the Heath by ensuring the existing landscape was not broken up by inappropriate planting of new hedges.


In response to a question from Colin Gregory, the Hampstead Heath Ecologist replied that the management of hedges was included in the Hampstead Heath work programme and that it complied with existing strategic polices. The Superintendent added that the new Hedges Management Plan could be explicitly linked to policies in future documents.


Colin Gregory took the opportunity to remark on a hedge near the cricket pitch on the Hampstead Heath Extension, noting that its restoration as a narrow hedge would not be welcome due to its location in screening views.


Susan Nettleton thanked the Hampstead Heath Ecologist for her report and remarked that she welcomed the use of native hedge stock.


In response to remarks from John Hunt on the need to manage the buffer zones around hedges as well as the hedges themselves, the Hampstead Heath Ecologist replied that, in keeping with ensuring the natural aspect of the Heath be preserved, intervention in the landscape had to be minimised and a balance had to be struck between actively encouraging and managing visible buffer zones around hedges and focusing on the hedge itself.


In response to a suggestion from Michael Hammerson over highlighting the importance of hedges to the wider public, the Hampstead Heath Information and Communication Officer replied that such information could be included under the Heritage section on the City of London Corporation’s website.


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