Like many of you, I have spent some time taking stock of what was achieved in 2022 and plotting a course for the year ahead.

I was delighted to end 2022 planting new trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy campaign, including a grove of 70 Silver Birches on Wanstead Flats.

Last month, on what turned out to be the coldest day of the year, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, the Ranger of Epping Forest, persevered across the snowy flats to help plant the final few Silver Birches.

The grove was originally planned to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. However, following the passing of the sovereign, the site was dedicated in her memory.

As you may be aware, Wanstead Flats technically sits within the London borough of Redbridge, but it is right on the border of the London boroughs of Newham and Waltham Forest and is well used by each of these communities.

I was delighted to bring the Mayors and First Citizen of each local authority together to each plant one of the trees alongside the Ranger. We were well assisted by the City of London and North-East Sector Army Cadets, who planted many of the trees in challenging conditions.

Earlier in December, I also joined the Deputy Lieutenant of Essex and Mayor of Epping planting a new tree on Epping’s Town Green.

It’s been wonderful to see so many people support the Queen’s Green Canopy and help improve our environment.

However, my hope for 2023 is that people appreciate that, similar to that familiar phrase “a dog isn’t just for Christmas”, trees require a lot of care and maintenance. With more than one million trees in Epping Forest to protect and keep safe and healthy, our budget is swiftly consumed.

Of course, with a new year, come the dreaded resolutions, but I am pleased to say we have many ways to help you stay active for little or no cost.

Whether it’s a round of golf at Chingford, a game of football at Wanstead Flats, a game of cricket in Woodford or Epping, rowing boats in Leyton, or just escaping to enjoy the tranquillity of our 8,000 acres of green space – on foot, bicycle or horseback - Epping Forest is here for you.

If you’re looking to escape the cold or wet weather, why not visit our latest exhibition at the Visitor Centre in Chingford, ‘Famous Forest Figures’. There are many famous individuals who have benefited from the ancient landscape in the past, such as social reformer Elizabeth Fry, artist Sir Jacob Epstein and poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

As always, our staff at the Visitor Centre are on hand to help you make the best of your time in the Forest. Admission to the Centre is free and open 10am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Or you can find a wealth of helpful information on our website

I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year.

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