This time last year, we were reflecting on how little rainfall Epping Forest had experienced during the winter months. This year, we may have experienced the wettest winter in 130 years! As a result, the Forest is very muddy at the moment.

We have budgeted £250,000 for path repairs; however, this only allows us to cover a small proportion of the total path network.

Eagle-eyed visitors in Chingford may have noticed that we are trialling three new path surfaces to see which is the most durable under the ever-increasing strain of feet, tyres and hooves! More on that in the months ahead.

In a recent discussion with Natural England, the City of London Corporation, Conservators of Epping Forest, explored the growing impact of climate change on the site.

The City of London Corporation’s ambitious Climate Action Strategy will introduce new land management practices to maximise the Forest’s ability to remove carbon from the environment. In addition, our Nature Conservation and Resilience strategy will explore ways to further improve biodiversity.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ben Murphy says that the Corporation's Climate Action Strategy will maximise the ability to remove carbonBen Murphy says that the Corporation's Climate Action Strategy will maximise the ability to remove carbon

One of the ways we are doing this is protecting our skylark population at Wanstead Flats. Skylarks are ground-nesting birds and have sadly been in decline in recent years. Working in partnership with the Wren Wildlife & Conservation Group (, we have recently re-installed temporary fencing around the skylark’s nesting site on the Flats.

Keeping people and their dogs out of the fenced areas has benefited the skylark population with 11 spotted at the site in 2023 – although I am sad to see vandalism to the fencing already. But, with your help, improved signage and our Forest Teams keeping an eye out, I hope we can encourage everyone to respect the boundaries and help protect these magnificent creatures.

Our team have also been preparing for the much-loved bluebell season. Once again, we’re urging visitors to keep to clearly defined pathways, not step onto the bluebells or indeed pick them!

Many insects and pollinators rely on early nectar from the bluebells to survive. I was surprised to learn that bluebells take years to recover from damage if they are stepped upon, so please help us protect this natural wonder for future generations and wildlife to enjoy.

Finally, the Epping Forest charity is blessed to benefit from so many helping hands and volunteers. In 2023, around 12,638 volunteer hours were donated.

This year, as we re-set our volunteer strategy, we want to grow our volunteer workforce and will be offering taster days.

Volunteering is not only an important way to help protect Epping Forest, but it is also a great way to learn new skills, socialise and improve your own health and well-being.

If you are interested in registering for these sessions, please email

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