As we near the end of another difficult year, I have been reflecting on the changes that have taken place in Epping Forest.

Such an ancient forest may seem to be a constant, eternal landscape with only the seasons that vary it. Of course, on closer inspection the forest is a hub of activity with its huge biodiversity alive and enjoying this protected environment.

Equally busy in the background are the staff and volunteers working to conserve and enhance the forest at the same time as welcoming millions of visitors.

In an effort to be more transparent about the work of our charity, I have been pleased to introduce an annual review. This looks back on the challenges and successes of managing the forest in 2019/20 and measures how far the objectives were met, as outlined in the Management Strategy 2020-30. Both documents can be found on our website and I recommend reading these if you are interested in just how many areas of work contribute to managing this green space.

Recently we were excited to sow a 42-acre wildflower meadow on Epping Forest’s Buffer Lands as part of a new scheme fighting climate change. This project aims to remove carbon from the atmosphere by creating new wildlife habitats across its open spaces. This is part of the City Corporation’s wider Climate Action Strategy which commits to achieve net zero carbon emissions for its operations by 2027.

The meadow, not far from High Beach, will lock atmospheric carbon into the undisturbed soil beneath this new permanent grassland, as well as boosting biodiversity. This marks just the beginning of more positive and forward-thinking schemes to help tackle the global climate challenges and to bring about even greater biodiversity to this woodland which has perhaps never been more vital in its role as ‘London’s Green Lungs’.

Although the nights are drawing in, I’m sure many of you will join me in making the most from the daylight hours by wrapping up and heading into the forest for a good stroll. Spending time with friends and family outdoors throughout the festive period can perhaps be even more highly recommended this year, as we know there are huge benefits of socialising outdoors in terms of reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Graeme Doshi-Smith is the Chairman of the City of London Corporation Epping Forest and Commons Committee