Opinion: Protect Heath by reducing amount of waste

Hampstead Heath Committee chairman Karina Dostalova, wants waste reduced and more recycling.

Hampstead Heath Committee chairman Karina Dostalova, wants waste reduced and more recycling. - Credit: Archant

Every year we welcome more and more visitors to our wonderful Hampstead Heath.

In the City of London Corporation's 30 years of managing the site, visitor numbers have grown dramatically, with our most recent count at 9.3million visits per year.

Whether it be for a walk with a four-legged friend, a picnic with a view, a stop off at one of our lovely cafes or a dip in our unique bathing ponds, we welcome everyone to enjoy this wonderful green space.

It is important that this incredible place, which is vital for recreation, socialising and mental health, is conserved and maintained for future generations and to do this it must be sustainable.

Over the past year we have been looking carefully at the management of waste on the Heath, and how we can improve efficiency and increase our rates of recycling when dealing with the hundreds of tonnes of rubbish and litter left behind.

It is a huge, complex, and expensive task, to collect and process this rubbish.

A new waste contract has just been signed that will enable us to introduce arrangements for visitors to separate their waste, allowing us to recycle more and reduce the quantity of waste that is being burnt for energy. We are now sending food waste from our cafes to a biodigester as well as recycling glass, tins, plastics and cardboard.

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These are all steps in the right direction, but we do need your help to care for the Heath. We need visitors to reduce the quantity of waste they bring onto the Heath and help us by taking litter home and using household recycling facilities.

We understand not everyone can take their rubbish home, and our staff will continue to work hard to keep the Heath clean and safe. To all of those dedicated volunteers and individuals who give up their spare time to litter pick and help us to conserve the Heath in many other ways - a heartfelt thanks.

We are very aware of an increasing general anxiety about the state of the environment, climate change and waste - and especially the issue of single-use plastics. The changes that we are implementing are an opportunity to work together to look after the Heath, and at the same time reverse the increasing costs of waste management.

The resources saved can then be diverted into the Heath with projects such as landscape management, ecological monitoring and nature conservation, and providing recreational facilities for our many visitors.

Working together we can ensure that Hampstead Heath is protected for the future and will continue to be a wonderful place to visit and an important refuge for wildlife.