Eco 2021: Heath needs restoration after unprecedented footfall
'People have needed the Heath for their health and wellbeing'
11 January, 2021 — By Harry Taylor
Muddy paths on Hampstead Heath
THE City of London Corporation said it will begin restoration works to Hampstead Heath this spring, as unprecedented levels of footfall has seen part of Hampstead Heath turn into a mudbath.
Hundreds of thousands of Londoners have flocked to the open space during lockdown to meet friends and exercise, with it seeing visitor levels higher than in previous years. However, it has come at a cost to the open space, with Parliament Hill and other areas turning into a quagmire.
John Beyer, who chairs the Heath sub-committee for the Heath and Hampstead Society, said: “People have needed the Heath for their health and wellbeing and to be able to get out of the house. Especially with Covid the numbers have gone up a lot since March, that’s to be expected really.
“There’s inevitably going to be some damage and compaction to parts of the Heath that get busy and crowded. It’s as bad as it’s ever been. The only thing you can do is to fence the areas off but that’s difficult to do at the moment.”
Part of Parliament Hill is currently cordoned off, its green verdant grass provides a sharp contrast with the worn banks on its approach.
The City of London Corporation confirmed that the top of the Model Boating Pond will have topsoil added and be reseeded later this year. It said it aims to keep as much of the Heath open and accessible as possible.
Anne Fairweather, chair of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee, said: “The increase in visitors along with the wet weather conditions has meant that the Heath is very muddy under foot, and visitors should wear appropriate footwear. Staff will be undertaking ground restoration works in the spring and autumn and this will provide an opportunity to enhance the biodiversity of the Heath.”
Ms Fairweather added: “This work will need to continue for a number of years and will be included in our annual work programmes.”
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