Skip to content

London BAP Priority Habitats

This is an archive page from a series of webpages and resources originally published on the London Biodiversity Partnership website; content has not been substantially updated. The London Biodiversity Partnership disbanded in 2009. Some of the information in these pages might be out of date and is presented for interest. 

The priority habitats outlined below remain the focus of much important work to enhance restore and recover nature in London. Please note, this page refers to habitat action plan groups some of which may no longer be active, but organisations may still be actively working with these habitats. The UK BAP ended in 2011 and the reporting system Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS) was shut down in 2016. 

Habitat Action Plans

Acid grassland

Download Acid Grassland Action Plan

Fine-leaved grasses, wildflowers and a distinctive group of insects and spiders find a home on London’s remaining acid grassland, currently found only on London’s larger public open spaces and golf courses.

The Acid Grassland & Heathland Working Group leads on the Acid Grassland Habitat Action Plan. It has identified important sites for restoration of Acid Grassland habitats across London. Progress on the HAP Acid Grassland is reported on BARS.

To learn more about Acid Grassland in London, download LBP’s public information booklet Acid Grassland – a nationally important habitat in London and for best practice guidance on managing Acid Grassland in London, download the advice booklet: Acid Grassland Conservation in London.

More information is available in this Acid Grassland Education Resource Pack.

Chalk grassland

Download Chalk Grassland Action Plan

Swaying summer flowers and the scent and ‘hum of summer’ were once a familiar experience on London’s chalk grasslands. There is a need to protect London’s remaining chalk grassland from intensive farming and encroaching scrub and woodland. The Chalk Grassland Habitat Action Plan aims to promote the cultural importance of these summer havens and restore lost grasslands to their former glory. Progress on the Chalk Grassland HAP is reported on BARS.


Download Heathland Action Plan

The distinctive purple haze of heathland, the result of millennia of land management, is home to a unique group of plants and animals. But heathland is rapidly losing ground as recreational land, scrub and woodland expand. The Acid Grassland & Heathland Working Group leads on the Heathland Habitat Action Plan and identified sites for restoration of Heathland in a number of London boroughs. Progress on the Heathland HAP is reported on BARS.

The Working Group produced best practice guidance for heathland managers.

Parks & urban green spaces

Download Parks and Urban Greenspaces Action Plan

The benefit that contact with nature provides is quietly confirmed by office workers who flock to their nearest greenspace for a lunch time retreat, and parents who explore life in miniature with their children at their local park or nature reserve. Churchyards and cemeteries, places of rest and quiet reflection, also teem with life. They provide greenspace where young and old alike can explore the wilder side of town – hear birdsong and discover butterflies, lichens, fungi and mosses.

The London Boroughs Biodiversity Forum leads on the Parks & urban green spaces action plan by providing support to parks and green space managers, and promoting the values and benefits of biodiversity for both parks and people. It also represents biodiversity interests on the board of the London Parks & Green Spaces Forum. Progress on this HAP is reported on BARS.

For advice on managing parks for wildlife, download Wild Squares: attracting wildlife to London’s squares and public gardens, which is based on the results of the London’s small parks and squares: a place for nature? survey of small open spaces in central London.

Or download the GLA’s Parks People and Nature: A guide to enhancing London’s parks and green spaces in a changing climate or CABE Space’s Making contracts work for wildlife: how to encourage biodiversity in urban parks.

Private gardens

Download Private Gardens Action Plan

London is not the grey block that represents it on many maps. The city’s network of private gardens forms its largest area of greenspace providing many people with their first contact with nature. Progress on the Private Gardens HAP is reported on BARS.

Find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening with London Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Pack

Download London Garden City, GiGL, LWT and GLA’s report on the state of gardens in London.


Download Reedbeds Action Plan

Reedbeds have a quiet beauty – a sea of swaying stems topped by hazy purple flowers, providing refuge to birds, insects, fish and mammals. Reedbeds are naturally unstable, sensitive to recreation, invasive species, pollution and sea-level rise. The Reedbed Working Group leads on the Reedbeds Habitat Action Plan, is planting new reedbeds, organises training workshops on reedbed management,and has produced best practice guidance on Reedbed management in London. Progress on the Reedbeds HAP is reported on BARS.

Rivers & streams

Download Rivers and Streams Action Plan

Over 600 kilometres of river flow through London, although many now form part of the city’s sewage system. Outmoded flood management – straightening, boxing-in and burying rivers – has hit the wildlife and recreational value of these waterways hard. The Rivers & Streams Working Group is delivering the targets in the Rivers & streams action plan, working to restore London’s rivers to a more natural state, benefiting wildlife and people, and contributing to the London Rivers Action Plan. Progress on the Rivers & Streams HAP is reported on BARS.

If you are reporting progress on river restoration on BARS, please use these Guidelines.

Standing water

Download Standing Water Action Plan

Home to fish, amphibians, birds and a host of other wildlife, standing water (ponds, lakes and canals) is also enjoyed by recreational fishermen and walkers. The threat of development, natural infilling and climate change threaten the biodiversity and recreational value of this habitat.

The Standing Water Working Group leads on the Standing Water Habitat Action Plan and is restoring and creating ponds across the capital. Progress on the Standing Water HAP is reported on BARS.

Canals were once London’s commercial arteries, carrying goods to and from the heart of the city, our canals still flow with life. But the pressure of urban life – vandalism, pollution, development and recreation – pose challenges.

Tidal Thames

The Thames is London’s ‘wildlife superhighway’, linking green spaces and smaller waterways, and supporting species and habitats not found anywhere else in the capital.

Progress on the Tidal Thames HAP is reported on BARS.


Download Wasteland Action Plan

Wasteland habitat develops on previously developed land and houses a remarkable diversity of species – providing informal space for wildlife and people. But wastelands receive little protection and often disappear under new development. Progress on the Wasteland HAP is reported on BARS.


Download Woodland Action Plan

Thousands of years of land management has dramatically reduced our woodland cover. As the timber market declined, so too did positive woodland management. Just under five percent of London is still woodland, but their quantity and health is under threat. The London Orchard Project is lead on the Orchard targets in the Woodland Habitat Action Plan. Progress on the Woodland HAP is reported on BARS.

For guidance on managing orchards for biodiversity, download PTES Guide to Orchard Management for Wildlife.

The Capital Woodlands project, which finished in 2010, was the focus for the rest of the HAP.

Capital Woodlands produced the following management guidance documents:

Other important habitats

Built structures

London’s wildlife depends not only on greenspace, but also on the artificial fabric of the city: buildings, bridges, car parks, wharfs, jetties and chimneys. Some species depend almost entirely on built structures.

A Built Structures Action Plan or Working Group has not been established.

Planners, developers and building owners can Design for Biodiversity and install features beneficial to wildlife, like living roofs.

Meadows and pastures

There are targets on BARS for this important habitat in London, but no working group or HAP at the present time.

Organisations are strongly encouraged to take ownership of the targets by taking action to protect and enhance existing meadows, and create new meadows on their land. Plantlife’s Saving Our Magnificent Meadows project may help partners deliver these targets.

Fen, marsh and swamp

There are targets on BARS for this important habitat in London, but no working group or HAP at the present time.

Organisations are strongly encouraged to take ownership of the targets by taking action to protect and enhance existing fens, and create new fens where appropriate.

Open landscapes with ancient/old trees

There are targets on BARS for this important habitat in London, but no working group or HAP at the present time.

Organisations are strongly encouraged to take ownership of the targets by taking action to protect and enhance existing habitat.

Scroll To Top