Epping Forest: Chairman’s Column – June 2023 – Benjamin Murphy

As I hope you will have seen from our social media posts, we recently celebrated Volunteers’ Week. It was an opportunity for us to recognise and say Thank You to the many organisations and individuals who help us maintain the ‘Green Lungs of London’.

I was delighted to invite some of our long-serving volunteers to a reception with the Lord Mayor of London at Guildhall – the headquarters of the City of London Corporation, who manage Epping Forest as a registered charity. The Lord Mayor recited a famous Audrey Hepburn quote: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others”. We are blessed with so many helping hands in Epping Forest, but we always welcome more!

If you would like to explore volunteering with us, please take a look at our recently published guide at https://bit.ly/EFvolunteers or reach out to our team.

This month, I was also pleased to host a visit by the Institute of Chartered Foresters. These nationwide professionals were interested to see the impressive hornbeam re-pollarding work in Bury Wood. The group heard from our arborist and ecology specialists about how we manage over 55,000 veteran trees.

Epping Forest is one of a few remaining large-scale examples of ancient wood-pasture in England and offers a rich mosaic of habitats. As Conservators, we are keen to celebrate our unique attributes and work across industries to pilot the latest research and techniques to protect the Forest for generations to come.

As well as maintaining our land assets, we also have to maintain our built assets. I recently had the pleasure of meeting representatives from the Heartwood Collection who, as many of you will know, are the new tenants of the Royal Forest Hotel in Chingford. This wonderful building is set to open before Christmas and will be an impressive pub with rooms. The tenant is investing more than £4m in the building, which is located next door to both our Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Chingford and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, which was built in 1543 at the instruction of King Henry VIII. I know how keen local residents and Forest visitors have been to have an easily accessible, high quality hospitality venue, which also celebrates the heritage of its surroundings. We look forward to watching this development closely in the months ahead. I wish them every success with this exciting new venture!

And finally, some good news about how we operate our Epping Forest headquarters at The Warren in Loughton. We are now using a solar array, which will harvest energy during daylight hours and accumulate it in a battery storage facility. This will help us to reduce costs on utility bills and potentially earn a small income for our charity, by providing stored energy back to the National Grid. This allows us to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and means we will have more resources to put to good use in caring for Epping Forest itself. A win-win!

Benjamin Murphy CC, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee

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