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Biodiversity in Lewisham

Find out what Lewisham is doing for local Biodiversity and how you can help.

Lewisham Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 with the ambition for the Borough to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan highlights the importance of green and blue spaces in tackling the simultaneous climate and biodiversity crises.

Objectives and actions within the Lewisham Biodiversity Action Plan support the Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan and will drive implementation.

The Lewisham Biodiversity Partnership

The Lewisham Biodiversity Partnership began in 1999 to develop an action plan for the Borough’s wildlife and natural environment.

This followed national and regional guidance and the objectives identified through the work of the London Biodiversity Partnership and the London Biodiversity Action Plan (2000).

. The current list of Lewisham Biodiversity Partnership member organisations can be found in the Lewisham Biodiversity Action Plan.

What is a Biodiversity Action Plan and why do we need one? 

Borough Biodiversity Action Plans highlight the need and actions to conserve locally important plants and animals and the landscapes in which they live. They help partners  focus on the priorities, and what, when and where action should take place.

They show how people can help locally important species, habitats and areas.

They set out the actions that will help the quality, resilience and abundance of Lewisham’s biodiversity – its variety of life – especially those species and habitats of value in the borough.

Biodiversity Action Plans focus on species and habitats that reflect national and regional conservation priorities as well as those that are culturally valued or serve as flagships for wider ecological gains.

 However, allwildlife is important and the Biodiversity Action Plan is fully aware of other species and habitats not actually mentioned in the plan.. With new developments or changes in site management it is crucial to assess all the wildlife which may be using a site and not just the Action Plan species and habitats.

A Natural Renaissance for Lewisham sets out the Partnership’s aspirations until 2026. It shows the opportunities and objectives which Lewisham’s Biodiversity Partnership is committed too and demonstrates the links that the conservation of Lewisham’s biodiversity can make to the Council’s continuing programmes within various directorates.

The latest update of ‘A Natural Renaissance for Lewisham’ was ratified by Mayor and Cabinet in November 2021.You can see the partnerships past achievements on Lewisham’s nature conservation blog.

The Environment Act

The Environment Act 2021 says that Public authorities who operate in England must consider what they can do to conserve and enhance biodiversity. As a public authority, we must:

  • consider what we can do to conserve and enhance biodiversity
  • agree policies and specific objectives based on your consideration
  • act to deliver your policies and achieve your objectives

The London Borough of Lewisham does thisthrough A Natural Renaissance for Lewisham.

No mow zones

We're trialling a new management practice for grass verges that are kind to nature and will help boost biodiversity across the borough.

Find out more about the trial and where you can see the wildflowers and grasses grow.

Lewisham’s priority species and habitats (in alphabetical order)

Priority species

1. all bat species (Chiroptera)

2. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

3. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

4. Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

5. European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

6. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

7. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

8. Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

9. Swift (Apus apus)

Priority habitats

1. living roofs

2. rivers

3. railway ‘linesides’

4. standing water and ponds

5. woodlands and trees

How can I help?

At home

Major changes in the countryside over the past 50 years have led to the destruction of many f wildlife habitats. 

Gardeners can make a valuable contribution in providing alternative habitats for wildlife and linking urban green spaces with nature reserves and the wider countryside.

Housing land, both private and public, constitutes the largest amount of open space within Lewisham Borough.. However, much of the housing space including gardens and estate grounds lie outside the control of the Council and needs the interest of home-owners and registered social landlords for their biodiversity improvements.

Your back and front gardens host an amazing variety of wildlife and that should be celebrated and encouraged. Consider these simple things that you can do to encourage and support wildlife:

  • do not pave over your existing garden and start or continue wildlife gardening including in front gardens - use native and/or wildlife friendly plants, those with simple flowers and night scented varieties are especially useful.

Use the following resources to find out more.      

  • build a small pond to benefit amphibians, invertebrates and other wildlife. Advice available from The Wildlife Trusts
  • create a log pile to benefit Stag Beetles, toads, hedgehogs and other wildlife using suitable untreated broadleaf dead wood,. place in shade or dappled shade buried, or in contact with the soil. Advice available from The Wildlife Trusts
  • build a bee/bug hotel to benefit insects and other invertebrates - advice available from The Woodland Trust
  • provide food for Sparrows and other birds all year round but especially in the spring during breeding season. Advice available from the BTO
  • don’t be too tidy – create wild areas to support hedgehogs and mini-beasts like caterpillars, spiders and beetles
  • compost food and garden waste - dvice available from the Lewisham Council web pages
  • avoid using pesticides, slug pellets and herbicides and try to work with nature or use alternative natural systems instead (e.g. planting annuals such as Californian poppies and marigolds in your garden will attract a wealth of beneficial insects, like ladybirds and hoverflies, that will eat aphids) -  advice available from The Wildlife Trusts
  • participate in conservation volunteering activities (e.g. Nature’s Gym), Citizen Science projects (e.g. River fly Monitoring, Butterfly count, Big Garden Birdwatch and other citizen surveys) and tell GiGL what you see

Out and about

Join a Friends Group

Friends groups are made up of volunteers who want to have a say in how their local parks and nature reserves are maintained, developed and used.  The groups organise entertainment, education and conservation activities as well as apply for funding to make improvements. 

They work in partnership with the local authority and Glendale. You can find out more information about Friends Groups near you and how to get on our parks pages.


Volunteers also play a keyrole in helping us manage our parks and open spaces. If you are keen on practical volunteering visit the Nature Conservation Lewisham blog for information on how to get involved.

Biodiversity for planners and developers

Planning and development are vital in conserving biodiversity especially in urban environments.

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have statutory obligations to ‘have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity’ and this duty is strengthened and clarified by the Environment Act.

This biodiversity duty also provides opportunities to tackle wider issues via the many benefits that biodiversity provides (e.g. improving health and wellbeing, climate change mitigation, ecosystem services). Lewisham’s Core Strategy (7.3.3) advocates the ‘protection, promotion and management of biodiversity’ while the emerging Local Plan also requires a Biodiversity Net Gain for most developments.

Developers and planners should follow Lewisham’s Biodiversity and Planning Guidance and the Greater London Authority’s Design Guide on Urban greening for biodiversity to achieve net gain for biodiversity on all new development through the development control process.

Report your sightings to Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL)

GiGL is the capital’s environmental records centre – it mobilises, curates and shares data that underpin our knowledge of London’s natural environment.

The GiGL species dataset is an extensive database of species records and although most taxa are represented, gaps do exist, in both species and geography. To help fill the gaps please consider sharing your records with GiGL.  Records can be shared using the spreadsheet template found on their website or the online recording form.

Note: You must have permission to share any records that are not your own. For more information on the work they do please visit their website

The parks and open spaces strategy

The parks and open spaces strategy is a tool to identify, communicate, map out and monitor a course of actions to help us achieve our vision.

Our parks and open spaces provide an essential environment and help protect us from the effects of climate change.

Integrated weed management policy (IWMP)

The London Borough of Lewisham and Glendale Grounds Management are committed to minimising the use of chemical herbicides to manage weeds. This policy summarises how we will do this through an integrated Weed Management (IWM) approach and shows the alternative methods we will use. Our goal is to only use chemical herbicides as a last resort and only when there are no other cost-effective or reasonable alternatives so that the risk of bad impacts on public health, the natural environment are kept to the absolute minimum.