Lowland acid grassland and ant-hills
Lowland acid grassland is a particularly important habitat for many highly specialised plants and animals. However it is also a threatened and fragile habitat that has seriously declined in the 20th century.
Richmond Park hosts the largest area of acid grassland in the London area - there are 49 species of grasses, rushes and sedge along with a huge range of wildflowers such as harebell, heath bedstraw, heath speedwell, mouse-ear hawkweed and tormentil that thrive on the more acidic and nutrient poor soils.
The most important invertebrate within these grasslands is the Yellow meadow ant (Lasius flavus), which has been described as an ecological engineer. There is an estimated 400,000 ant-hills covering an area of 35 hectares, which contain 3 billion ant workers within Richmond Park! The ant-hills range in shape, size and structure but the largest ant-hills are within the acid grasslands, where it is low in phosphates, high in organic matter and has the greatest plant species richness and mite diversity.
Therefore next time you walk across the grasslands, look out for the ant-hills and think what is also underneath your feet!
The Visitor Centre at Pembroke Lodge car park celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It was once a toilet block in need of refurbishment but after some careful planning and liaison with key stakeholders, it became a Visitor Centre in Easter 2007.
It’s run by volunteers and open every day except Christmas Day where information, leaflets and maps are available along with a range of gifts to purchase.
All the profits go towards important conservation projects such as the tern rafts on Pen Ponds and improvements along the Beverley Brook.
There are over 400 different types of fungi in Richmond Park, including Parasol mushrooms, many of which can be seen now until the first hard frost.
Fungi are ecologically important, as they provide food and habitat to numerous insects and other animals and have a complex relationship with plants by supplying nutrients to their roots.
Whilst some of these fruiting bodies are palatable to humans, many are not, but it is strictly forbidden to collect and pick fungi in the park. It is also a criminal offence so please respect the signs and do not pick any mushrooms.
There are over 140 litter bins in Richmond Park and we are working hard to ensure the park is kept litter free.
You can help us to conserve and enhance the important habitats and wildlife within the park, by taking your litter home, picking up after your dog and using the bins provided.
However if you’d like to get more actively involved, the Friends of Richmond Park are looking for volunteers to help litter pick across certain areas of the park.
This is a very important month, as the deer will be rutting so you will probably hear the stags bellowing across the park trying to attract as many females as possible.
Please respect the deer and this natural behaviour by keeping at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range.
Dates for your diaries
In liaison with Operation Centaur, horse and carriage rides will be operating in Richmond Park from Saturday 25 November through to Saturday 30 December on various days.
If you’d like to have a unique experience to explore the park with the majestic Shire horses and see the beauty and wildlife up close whilst under the warmth of a blanket, keep an eye on our upcoming events calendar for more information and to make a booking (coming soon).