This week in Epping Forest, I hosted a visit by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Vincent Keaveny, and the Lady Mayoress, to plant a tree in memory of Sir Roger Gifford. The Lord Mayor heads the City of London Corporation which manages Epping Forest as a registered charity.

Sir Roger served as Lord Mayor in 2012-2013, during which time he raised £75,000 toward the purchase of 30 acres of land at Horseshoe Hill, Upshire.

Alongside my predecessor and many local volunteers, he led the planting of two new woodlands comprising 5,280 trees at the site.

Sadly, we lost Sir Roger in 2021. However, the Gifford family have continued to generously support his vision for Gifford Wood, "as a place of public enjoyment and a haven for wildlife".

I am also pleased to report that the Lord Mayor-Elect, Alderman Nicholas Lyons, who is due to take office in November, will be the first Lord Mayor to sit on the Epping Forest and Commons Committee since Sir Roger - and I look forward to unveiling some exciting projects with him shortly.

You can find out more about Gifford Wood via our website.

As a charity, Epping Forest, like many households across the country, is concerned at the potential political and economic challenges which lie ahead.

As costs continue to rise, trustees must continue to explore alternative sources of income which remain in line with our charitable objectives.

Many people are not aware that Epping Forest is funded by an 800-year old property endowment managed by the City Corporation, called City's Cash. The income from this endowment funds the charitable management of 11,000 acres of green space across London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath - three wholesale markets, schools, and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

One great example of charitable partnership has been with local accountancy firm, Haslers. To celebrate their 70th anniversary, they donated £15,000 to open up a previously overgrown area of woodland and provide a welcoming new entrance. The Golden Hill Trail starts at Golding's Hill in Loughton, which is next to a bus stop and a short walk from both Loughton and Debden stations, helping to facilitate car-free visits to the Forest.

To ensure that Epping Forest continues to offer all its glorious biodiversity, we are undertaking work to help our mosaic of diverse habitats to thrive. The works, which are taking place in Bury Woods in Chingford and at Honey Lane, are restoring the protected ancient wood pasture landscape of Epping Forest by opening up previously shaded areas, helping to look after our ancient trees and improve habitats for plants and animals.

One final reminder at this time of year: collecting fungi from the Forest is against the byelaws. They play an essential role in the ecosystem of the ancient woodland, so please look, but don't touch.

I hope you get to visit Epping Forest or its surrounding Buffer Land during this special season. If you do, why not take some photographs of your experience and share them with us on our Epping Forest social media using #EppingForestAutumn22? We love seeing our visitors’ photographs of what they see when they visit and hearing about how they benefit from this unique and very precious ancient woodland.

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