First of all, Happy New Year! We sincerely hope that 2022 can bring better days for all of us, and indeed, on a more local level, we hope that you will have many opportunities to explore and enjoy the unique and ancient woodland of Epping Forest. This year.
During the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout the subsequent lockdowns, we launched a #StayLocalEppingForest social media campaign. This was to ease the pressure on the ‘honeypot’ areas of the forest and promote how different, perhaps lesser-known areas could be enjoyed much closer to home across the 6,000 acres. (as well as nearly 2,000 acres of buffer land the City of London Corporation purchased to better protect the boundaries of the forest itself).
Additionally, the campaign supports our goals of encouraging people to access the forest without using their car. This will contribute to sustainability and cleaner air in the region in general, but will also help to reduce harmful pollutants from cars which we know negatively impact the biodiversity of the forest habitat. To this end, we are pleased to have secured funding from Transport for London for more bike racks in the central and southern parts of Epping Forest; these should be installed in early spring.
To find out more about this campaign and for advice on areas of Epping Forest near you and how best to benefit, subscribe to our social media pages @Epping Forest City of London on Facebook, @CoLEppingForest on Twitter and @coleppingforest on Instagram, as we often promote ideas for different areas to visit. You can also subscribe to our regular digital magazine, Forest Focus, using this link https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/epping-forest/whats-new-in- epping-forest
Despite the shorter daylight hours and harsh temperatures of these winter months, our Epping Forest team continue to work outdoors to care for London’s great forest, ensuring it is ready for spring. and at its best as a biodiverse habitat when warmer weather finally arrives.
In February and March we work with the charity Thames 21 on a restoration program to improve the natural ecosystem of the River Roding which runs alongside Wanstead Park. This work will consist of lowering trees from the bank into the water. This will narrow the river in places, diversify the water flow pattern, and provide refuge areas where marginal aquatic plants can grow and fish can shelter. We will be enlisting the help of volunteers for this project, so keep in touch with our website/social media for more details.
Work is also continuing on the ten-year pollarding plan with the pruning of 150 hornbeams. This takes place primarily in the Bury Wood area, but there are also similar, smaller operations in Hangboy Slade and Rushey Plain. This work will help stabilize these important ancient trees, increase their longevity, and improve light levels reaching the woodland floor, allowing for the development of ground flora, diverse habitat structures, and increased biodiversity.
Graeme Doshi-Smith is the vschairman of the City of London Corporation Epping Forest and Commons Committee