As 2023 draws to a close, it presents an opportunity to celebrate our successes, reflect on our achievements and think about our plans for the future.
I am lucky to spend so much time with the incredible staff and volunteers who deliver critical work to conserve Epping Forest as a place of recreation and enjoyment.
It is impossible to name them all, but one particular example is the chair of Epping Forest Heritage Trust, Judith Adams, who has recently won the 2023 Forestry Commission’s London Acord Award, given to an individual volunteer who has made a significant contribution to promoting or conserving trees. Well done, Judy!
It is not possible for our Epping Forest charity to deliver all of the services people ask us to without collaboration and partnerships. This year we have built on this theme, with local businesses, local authorities and charitable groups.
We have also witnessed the growing impact climate change is having on Epping Forest. There is a seasonal inconsistency which is confusing nature and we’re yet to see how that will impact us in the longer term.
Businesses across the world are also having to look carefully at their environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations and consider new ways of working to support the change our natural environment needs to survive. We plan to consider how Epping Forest can help them achieve this in the year ahead.
As many readers know, the City of London Corporation conserves Epping Forest as a registered charity.
Three of the key transformation projects we have been working on this year have included
(i) public engagement on the City Corporation’s Corporate Plan to ensure the needs of Epping Forest are reflected at the heart of the organisation
(ii) the restructure of staffing in Epping Forest, to ensure we have the right skillsets to deliver our charitable objectives and that staff are properly recognised for the roles they perform and
(iii) a review of our risk register and aligned mitigation, to ensure we align our resources to the highest risks.
As a result of these projects, the City Corporation has invested an extra £780,000 in Epping Forest’s staffing, in addition to capital project investment of £250,000 for path repairs and £210,000 on tree safety works.
As we move into 2024, we proceed with optimism. There are challenges ahead, but with the right support, it is entirely achievable.
Finally, may I invite you to browse the fabulous gifts at the Epping Forest Visitor Centre shop in Chingford. We have a selection of books, nature-inspired jewellery and Epping Forest-branded items. Every penny spent at our Visitor Centre shop is directly reinvested into taking care of the ‘Green Lungs of London’!
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I sincerely hope you will find some time within your busy plans throughout the festive period to enjoy and appreciate Epping Forest!
Benjamin Murphy CC, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee