London’s priority species are those species we share our city with that are national priorities for conservation and those that are believed to be declining in London or beyond.
Species on the London Priority Species List (LPSL) meet one or more criteria to indicate their conservation status as a species which require conservation action:
- species with native or long-term naturalised populations in London that are listed on S41 of the NERC Act
- species that are on the UK red list or are UK scarce
- species that are not recognised as of conservation concern nationally but are characteristic of London and under threat locally, e.g. black poplar
The initial London Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species List (LPSL) was developed by the London Biodiversity Partnership prior to 2000 and first updated in 2007. It included 214 species deemed a priority across Greater London
In 2018 an update project was instigated between GiGL and GLA. Experts were enlisted to review a possible list of species which met the criteria and an updated list provided to the GLA in 2019. From this the current London Priority Species List of 243 species across 18 groups was finalised. The newly updated London Priority Species List can be downloaded from the GLA website.
A longer LSOCC list is in use by GiGL as part of the Data Search Service. See the GiGLer article for more information.
Below is an archive version of the London Biodiversity Partnership website. Some of the information might be out of date and is presented for interest.
London Biodiversity Partnership identified a total of 214 priority species that are under particular threat in London.
Planning decisions must take these species into account.
Eight of these species (or species groups) were identified as needing targeted action to secure their future in London, and these have their own Species Action Plans.
However, sensitive management of London’s priority habitats and delivery of Habitat Action Plans and habitat targets will support the needs of most of our priority species.
Species briefings are available for selected priority species.
All UK BAP priority species that have an established resident population in London have been adopted as London priority species. Other London priority species have been selected because they are on the UK Red Data List, are scarce in the UK, or are characteristic of London.
We are particularly interested to hear from you if you see any of these species. Find out more about how to tell us what you’ve seen.
Download the London Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species list, last reviewed in 2007, or download the review.
The reference lists of Species of Conservation Concern in London were also updated in 2007. Download reference lists for:
Species Action Plans
London is home to at least eight species of bat. A couple of generations ago, people talked of ‘clouds of bats’ rising across the Thames – but not today. City bats increasingly rely on buildings to roost.
The London Bat Group leads on our Bats Species Action Plan. Progress on the Bats SAP is reported on BARS.
Organisations, householders and developers can take action to protect and encourage bats.
The black poplar – once a symbol of fertility – perversely has suffered its own massive decline. Black poplar timber was once used for making rifle butts, broom handles, toys and even Venetian blinds. Now, the old age of London’s surviving black poplars means that they need our help to survive.
The Natural History Museum leads our Black Poplar SAP Group and the Black Poplar Species Action Plan. Progress on the Black Poplar SAP is reported on BARS.
The once familiar ‘Cockney sparrer’ has suffered a massive drop in numbers. There is a need to discover the root cause of the sparrow’s decline, while increasing public awareness of its plight.
The London House Sparrow Parks Project and Cockney Sparrow Project have been key elements in the delivery of the House Sparrow Species Action Plan. Progress on the House Sparrow SAP is reported on BARS.
A sacred pagan symbol, mistletoe has been a symbol of peace and goodwill throughout the ages. It is a parasitic plant, growing in the branches of deciduous trees. A lot of mistletoe has been pruned out of trees.
Progress on the Mistletoe SAP is reported on BARS.
Download Christmas curiosity or medical marvel? A seasonal review of mistletoe or visit the Mistletoe Pages for more information about this intriguing species.
London has its own ‘micro-climate’, several degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside, making it attractive to reptiles. Slow worm, adder, grass snake and common lizard are threatened in London by a lack of understanding and persecution.
The HLF-funded CLARE Project (Connecting London’s Amphibian and Reptile Environments) delivered targets in the Reptiles Species Action Plan. Progress on the Reptiles SAP is reported on BARS.
Land managers can learn how to make their land more reptile-friendly using the Reptile Habitat Management Handbook.
Darting over the water to catch insects, sand martins are a familiar summer sight to Londoners living and working near waterways. But their numbers are declining due to droughts in sub-Saharan Africa, where they spend their winters, and loss of summer breeding grounds in London. Progress on the Sand martin SAP is reported on BARS.
Land managers can learn how to make room for sand martins using the Best Practice Guidelines for creating sand martin banks and towers.
The UK’s largest ground-living beetle, the stag beetle, has a fearsome appearance and reputation. London is a stag beetle hotspot, with thirty percent of the UK’s recorded population in our woods, parks and gardens. There is a need to improve awareness of the value of the dead wood in which stag beetle larvae live, and creating artificial stag beetle ‘loggeries’.
Progress on the Stag beetle SAP is reported on BARS.
Download the advice note on stag beetle conservation
Since Kenneth Graham first introduced generations of readers to the loveable Ratty in ‘Wind in the Willows’ his real-life counterpart, the water vole, has suffered an alarming drop in its population. The London Water Vole Project delivered the Water Vole Species Action Plan through its highly successful reintroduction programme, and by raising public support for this engaging creature. Progress on the Water Vole SAP will be reported on BARS.
Planners and developers can download guidance on protecting water voles in development.
Other Important Species
An iconic figure of London’s wildlife, the black redstart is a recent arrival from Europe. The appearance of this bird on London’s wastelands during the Second World War led it to be nicknamed the ‘bomb-site bird’. There was a London SAP for the Black Redstart until 2008, and it is still a London priority species.
The Common Dormouse is a London priority species.
At the top of the food chain, any decline in water quality or food supply has a knock-on effect on grey heron populations. There was a London SAP for the grey heron until 2008.
The Otter is a London priority species.
We easily forget how our city appears to our airborne neighbours. London’s patchwork of buildings provides homes for these spectacular birds. There was a London SAP for the Peregrine until 2008, and it is still a London priority species.
Visit the London Peregrine Partnership