Together, let's create a thriving Forest, rich in biodiversity, heritage, and culture; enjoyed and conserved by all, now and for generations to come!
Epping Forest is a truly ancient Forest, with over 55,000 ancient trees. It stretches 14 miles from Manor Park in East London to Epping in Essex, covering 6,000 acres. It is the biggest open space in London.
The Forest is a rare surviving piece of ancient woodland in England partly because it was protected by Epping Forest Act 1878, and became one of the earliest publicly accessible landscapes in England. It is now also protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its rare ecology and trees.
The reason Epping Forest is such a precious and irreplaceable place is because of people's involvement with the Forest throughout centuries.
Ancient lopping practices extended the life of the trees. Cattle grazing helped provide micro-habitats that are valuable to a variety of plants and animals. Together this created what we see today: a diverse mosaic of habitats including historic wood pasture, green lanes, Europe's largest single population of ancient beech-pollarded trees, heathlands, and grassy plains, many of which have been grazed for centuries.
And a huge range of people, from politicians to working-class people, from the liberal elite to the City of London Corporation, all came together and played their part in saving the Forest from the enclosure in the late Victorian era.
It is our firm belief that today everyone should be able to visit and enjoy the Forest and everyone can contribute to its conservation. Now is the time to celebrate and embrace the diverse heritage of the Forest once again so that both people and nature can thrive.
- Evidence shows that time spent in nature improves mental health and well-being. Studies also indicate that overall time spent in nature leads to increased perceived value for connectedness to nature and, subsequently, greater pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours
- Epping Forest is adjacent to 4 local authorities: Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest in London and Epping Forest District in Essex. These include some of the most diverse and disadvantaged communities in the country.
- We also know that not everyone is equally able to visit the Forest and reap the benefits. Polling we undertook with Waltham Forest Council showed that women and people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds do not visit Epping Forest as much as white people; and people with lower incomes do not visit the Forest as much as people who are more affluent. This means that many people in our local communities and neighbourhoods are missing out on the joys of visiting the Forest, and missing out on the benefits that brings.
- At the same time, Epping Forest is facing its gravest challenges in a generation: air pollution, loss of biodiversity, significant adjacent development and climate change. The Forest desperately needs everyone in the community to come together to help protect it.
We need a similar 'coming together of people' now to create a thriving Forest, for the benefit of people and Epping Forest.
"No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced!" -- Sir David Attenborough
We want to enable as many people as possible from communities around the Forest to visit Epping Forest, get inspired by it, and love and work to protect it as much as we do.
We will reach out and engage with people and communities who do not currently visit Epping Forest, understand the obstacles they face and work with them to create and organise appropriate Forest activities: whether it's a biodiversity-focused guided walk, litter picking, a family picnic, a long hike or a hands-on conservation day.
- We organised family walks for Black Girls Hike in partnership with The Hive, with nature-themed activities for children and their carers
- We led and organised a 14-mile guided walk in the north of Epping Forest with the Muslim Hikers group, and were joined by 200 attendees
- We partnered on a LGBTQA+ friendly summer walk and picnic
- We have led guided walks and Forest activities for refugees and asylum seekers in collaboration with the Magpie Project, Fences and Frontiers and CPRE London
"Loved the event! It was great to have a space where I could walk with other Black women and families, and bring my own family."
"Being in a Muslim-friendly environment is great! As a woman in hijab I often feel quite vulnerable and intimidated to venture out on these kinds of activities."
"Loved the hike, I live 10 minutes from Epping Forest & haven't ventured out on any of their trails so it was lovely to do it with Muslim Hikers & my friends."
Haroon Mota, founder of Muslim Hikers said, "Relationships like the one we have with Epping Forest Heritage Trust are crucial in helping break down barriers to the outdoors and ensuring communities feel more welcome."
We currently run free monthly guided walks and our annual celebration walk 'Epping Forest Big Walk' with a small staff team and a group of committed volunteers. Most of these walks are oversubscribed.
The demand for bespoke activities to meet the needs of particular groups of people is increasing as people get to know more about our work,
Most importantly, we want to continue to proactively reach out to more local communities and people who do not currently visit Epping Forest, to understand the obstacles they are facing, and work together with them to create appropriate activities to enable them to visit, enjoy and care for the Forest.
We need your help to reach our £10,000 target to continue this vital work
£10,000 will enable us to research and reach out to diverse communities around the Forest, discuss with them the obstacles that they face, and work with them to create and deliver activities that best engage different communities in in the Forest.
Through working together with these communities we will show that the Forest can be a welcoming space for everyone, and that is it a precious space that we can love and protect together.
Epping Forest Heritage Trust is a charity and a membership organisation dedicated to preserving and protecting Epping Forest, its biodiversity, heritage and culture, to be enjoyed now and for generations to come.
We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the Forest responsibly and contribute to its conservation.
1) Educate and inspire people about Epping Forest
- Our volunteer advisers operate the High Beach Visitor Centre
- We run monthly free guided walks, and bespoke walks for people from different communities
- We host talks about Epping Forest and its biodiversity, heritage, and culture
- We collaborate with community groups and businesses to inspire people to get to know and love Epping Forest
2) Carry out hands-on work to conserve Epping Forest
- We manage conservation sessions for volunteer participants
- We deliver bespoke conservation sessions for different groups of people
3) Protect Epping Forest through research, engagement and advocacy
- We campaign to raise awareness of the Forest
- We advocate on behalf of the Forest on local planning and transport consultations
- We conduct research to inform our work