The arrival of a new year presents an opportunity to reflect on the past and plan for the year ahead. For many, this includes resolutions to increase physical activity with the intention of working off some of the seasonal excesses!

Epping Forest, which is conserved by the City of London Corporation as a registered charity, offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. Whether you are looking for a leisurely ramble, a faster-paced jog or a forest cycle, we can help.

We also have a wonderful golf course at Chingford and one of the largest collections of football pitches in London at Wanstead Flats.

You can find out about ways to enjoy Epping Forest on our website: or by popping into one of our visitor centres.

Over the past few months, many of you have engaged in the City Corporation’s own Corporate Plan consultation.

The feedback received ranked environmental issues, such as our open spaces, the second highest category.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ben Murphy is thinking differently about the way Epping Forest can be protected and preservedBen Murphy is thinking differently about the way Epping Forest can be protected and preserved

If Epping Forest is to remain the ‘jewel in the crown’ of London, it will require us all to think differently about how we can both protect and conserve the unique natural areas, whilst supporting the significant increases in visitor pressure from local developments.

The Conservators are reviewing all of the feedback and will be updating charity-specific strategies and local management plans where necessary over the next few months. More to follow on this.

Last year, the superintendent of Epping Forest, Paul Thomson, informed me of his intention to retire at the end of January. 

Paul has given 15 years of loyal service to the City Corporation, progressing a wide range of projects and finding a way through so many varied challenges. We have been overwhelmed with warm wishes for Paul as he begins his next chapter, which says much about his character and the number of stakeholders he has worked with over the years to deliver improvements.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Thompson is leaving the City of London Corporation after 15 yearsPaul Thompson is leaving the City of London Corporation after 15 years (Image: City of London Corporation)

On behalf of all everyone at Epping Forest, we wish Paul and his family all the very best for the future and thank him sincerely for his service and his steadfast dedication to our cause.

I am pleased to confirm that Epping Forest’s head of business development, Jacqueline Eggleston, has been appointed interim superintendent.

Jacqueline is well-known to many local stakeholders and has served as a key member of the management team in Epping Forest for a number of years. She has been leading the recruitment effort as part of the team’s restructure for some months and is well-placed to lead the organisation to embed the new corporate strategy in our operating environment.

For those of you who may be looking for a career change or a new challenge, don’t forget we are continuing to advertise vacancies as the result of the increased investment the City of London Corporation are making in Epping Forest. You can find out more a:

I wish you all a happy, health and prosperous New Year.

  • Ben Murphy is chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee.