Countryside conservation

Despite the urban impression Havering might give to a casual visitor, protected countryside makes up nearly half of the borough.

To help you understand and enjoy its green spaces here is some information about the local nature reserves and conservation projects.​

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity refers to the broadly diverse forms into which organisms have evolved and is considered at three levels:

Genetic diversity 

Variation in genes enabling organisms to evolve and adapt to new conditions.

Species diversity 

The number, types, and distribution of species within an ecosystem.

Ecosystem diversity

The variety of habitats and communities of different species that interact in a complex web of interdependent relationships.

Biodiversity Action Plans

Biodiversity Action Plans identify the opportunities and threats for wildlife and help to target everyone's efforts where they will do most good.

Local Biodiversity Action Plans can concentrate on species and habitats that are characteristic of an area, as well as those that are under threat regionally or nationally.

Havering has wildlife and wild places to be proud of. As an outer London Borough encircled by Green Belt land, Havering is custodian of countryside and wildlife that is important not only for those that live and work in the borough but for many other Londoners as well.

The Havering Wildlife Partnership, consisting of wildlife organisations active in Havering, wildlife experts and Council staff, has drawn up plans to look after the regionally important habitats and species, as well as others that are important in local terms.


Havering supports a number of unusual animals of regional or national importance as well as some more familiar ones that have special significance locally.


With its mixture of built-up areas and open country, Havering has a wide range of habitats some of which, such as grazing marsh and reed bed, are very important for London as a whole.

Havering Wildlife Partnership

The Havering Wildlife Partnership has been formed to put together a Biodiversity Action Plan for Havering - a blueprint for looking after all of Havering's wildlife, not only in nature reserves and in the countryside but in parks and gardens and urban areas as well.

The Partnership, working closely with Havering Council within the Local Agenda 21 programme, consists of representatives of conservation organisations active in the borough, Havering Council officers, and experts on local wildlife.

It is committed to working with local residents and other partners, such as government agencies, landowners and local businesses, to organise practical action that translates the plan into real gains for Havering's wildlife.

Want to know more about biodiversity?

The National Biodiversity Network aims to support the implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and the partnership involved in biodiversity conservation. Central to this, their website will support communication to share best practice and develop better ways of working throughout the biodiversity community.

How you can help

If you live or work in Havering there are many ways that you can help, such as managing part of your garden for wildlife, by supporting local wildlife conservation groups, or by getting involved in environmental projects.

Management projects

We provide information to visitors and run a varied events programme, the countryside rangers also work with landowners, undertake conservation and access improvements, and work closely with school and community groups.

Havering Council's Countryside Service covers the countryside throughout the area, working closely with countryside services in the adjoining local authorities, and organisations such as the Thames Chase Community Forest.​

What is the 'natural environment' and 'biodiversity'?

The 'natural environment' could be said to encompass all living and non-living things occurring naturally on earth and includes the interaction of all living species.

It is often contrasted with the built environment, which comprises the areas and their components that are strongly influenced by humans.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit) defined 'biodiversity' as being "...all living things including plants and animals, any genetic variations, and the complex ecosystems of which they are part. It is not restricted to rare or threatened species but includes the whole of the natural world from the commonplace to the critically endangered".

The natural environment in Havering

As an outer London Borough encircled by Green Belt land, Havering is custodian of countryside and wildlife that is important not only for those that live and work in the borough but for many other Londoners as well. Even among the outer London boroughs, Havering's biodiversity is notable.

Its historic parks, river valleys and Thames-side marshland hold a significant proportion of London's entire resource of some priority habitats.

Its private gardens are home to a national priority species, the stag beetle, and Havering is also the stronghold in London for two other national priority species: water voles and great crested newts.

Within Greater London, Havering has 56 percent of the grazing marsh, 31 percent of the reed beds, 31 percent of the floodplain grassland, 25 percent of the marshland and 19 percent of the lakes and ponds, in all cases more than any other London borough.

It is indisputable that many people care about their local environment, including the natural environment, and this is one of the main reasons why Havering Council and its partners have been working proactively to conserve and improve those aspects of the natural environment that matter to local residents.

A survey undertaken by 'Natural England' (2012) revealed that 93 percent of the 47,000 respondents agreed that having green space close to where they live is important.

There are lots of other reasons to prioritise nature conservation and biodiversity. Many research studies have highlighted the importance of nature and access to the natural environment on people's health, wellbeing and development.

It helps children connect to the natural world, improving educational outcomes and stimulating the imagination whilst encouraging communities to understand and adapt to changes in the natural world.

There is also a growing body of evidence showing the health and wellbeing of mankind depends upon the services provided by ecosystems and their components: water, soil, nutrients and organisms.

The Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Strategy seeks to provide a renewed framework for the Council and its partners to work within, to ensure a co-ordinated approach to nature conservation and biodiversity work in the borough.

The strategy takes account of the significant progress that has been made in promoting, protecting and enhancing biodiversity in the borough in the last decade, as well as considering the new challenges facing those involved in the delivery of the nature conservation agenda.

The Strategy also includes an Action Plan which is focused on addressing 18 objectives designed to improve and protect natural habitats, given their importance and the underpinning role they play in protecting and enhancing wildlife, whether it be plants, insects and/or animals.

The Action Plan is built around a plan that has already been substantially developed by Havering Wildlife Project.