Nature conservation

We want to preserve our parks and open spaces to ensure we remain one of London's cleanest and greenest boroughs.

Volunteering opportunities

Gardening for wildlife

You do not need to be an expert to get involved with conserving local biodiversity. Your garden is your nearest nature reserve and a haven for London’s wildlife!

Private gardens form a significant proportion of urban greenspace, playing a valuable role in forming wildlife corridors between larger areas of habitat, such as parks, commons and open spaces.

Find our more about wildlife gardening:

See our Biodiversity Action Plan for more details.

Nature reserves

There are several important areas for nature conservation in the borough.

World Heritage Site

  • Kew Gardens

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

  • London Wetland Centre
  • Richmond Park - also a National Nature Reserve and a Special Area of Conservation

Local Nature Reserves

  • Barnes Common
  • Crane Park Island
  • Ham Common
  • Ham Lands
  • Leg O’Mutton Reservoir
  • Oak Avenue

Habitats found in the borough

Habitats are the different environments where plants and animals live. In Richmond as there are a wealth of different habitats, several of which are important on an international scale.

Safeguarding and enhancing habitats is the key to conserving biodiversity.

Woodland

There are many important areas of broad-leaved woodland within Richmond Borough, but most of them are secondary woodlands that have naturally regenerated and succeeded from heathland or acid grassland areas after grazing ceased, such as on Barnes, East Sheen and Ham Commons. There is no ancient woodland within the borough, although there are many magnificent ancient trees in Richmond Park and The Copse in Ham.

There are several trees with limbs broken off from storm damage, which have numerous natural cavities that provide ideal nesting sites for woodpeckers, nuthatches, treecreepers, owls and bats, which all feed on the tremendous numbers and diversity of invertebrates which are supported by these trees.

Ancient trees, standing deadwood and fallen timber contribute to one of our most important habitats for biodiversity, especially in Richmond Park, where over 200 rare species of beetle can be found. The park is the third best site in Britain for decaying wood invertebrates, including the stag beetle.

Grassland

Whilst there are large areas of open grassland in Richmond, many of these sites are not managed primarily for nature conservation. These include sports pitches: cricket, football and bowling greens, and recreational areas such as playing fields. The areas that are typically managed as meadows support the largest amount of flora and fauna, but the soil type and management practices of a site will ultimately affect the species composition.

A lot of Richmond’s grasslands are acidic and the largest areas are contained within Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Home Park (Hampton Court). Other important acid grassland sites are the commons of Barnes, East Sheen and Ham. These sites contain many important plants, but the plant mostly associated with acidic conditions is heather, but unfortunately like most of London, only small remnants now remain within the borough, although efforts are being made on Barnes Common to restore an area of heather

Scrubland

Scrub usually occurs as a transitional stage in the succession from grassland to woodland, notably where grassland has been left unmanaged. However it is an important habitat for an array of species, predominantly birds, as it provides ideal cover for nesting, feeding and breeding.

There are some important sites within the borough that contain scrub, and these tend to be the Commons where grazing has ceased and succession has progressed, such as on Barnes Common where there is gorse and broom. However one of the most important is Ham Lands Local Nature Reserve, which is noteworthy for the number of song thrush territories.

Wetland

There are many important wetland (flowing and standing water) areas within the borough. The most important and well known is the River Thames, of which there are tidal and non-tidal sections in the borough.

Other watercourses include the River Crane, Duke of Northumberland River, Longford River and Beverley Brook, which support an array of flora and fauna such as the water vole. These wetland areas provide ideal habitats for many species, for example Leg O’Mutton reservoir and London Wetland Centre are havens for waterfowl and Stain Hill reservoir is the only known site in London that supports the nationally scarce tower mustard (Arabis glabra).

Wildlife

The quality and diversity of our parks, open spaces and conservation areas is home to a wealth of different habitats and species. Some of these species are important on a regional, national and international scale.

Information leaflets produced by the Richmond Biodiversity Partnership:

Updated: 9 February 2016