Here we are in March, a time eagerly anticipated by both the wildlife who call Epping Forest home and us humans who have longed for lighter evenings and some warmer weather!

As we approach the vernal equinox on March 20, the forest is waking up from a winter slumber, with exciting new signs of life emerging everywhere.

As we continue to plan for the future, improving biodiversity remains a priority for Epping Forest, which is managed by the City of London Corporation as a registered charity. We are planning our ten-year programme for habitat conservation, due to begin in 2024.

Much of the work proposed involves restoring wood pasture as well as heathland and grassland areas, which are an important part of the rich mosaic of habitats that make up Epping Forest.

We will be applying for grant funding from Defra to carry out this vital work to protect the forest, more than half of which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

I am pleased to report that our much-loved herd of English longhorn cows will be back at Chingford Plain shortly, and we’re looking forward to extending the conservation benefits of grazing across the forest through the year, as the weather improves.

Did you know that Wanstead Heath, on Wanstead Flats, is a Special Area of Conservation?

Even in east London’s most urban areas, Epping Forest offers pockets of sanctuary for so much wildlife.

One of the species we are working hard to protect on Wanstead Flats is the skylark.

These are rare ground-nesting birds, which leaves them vulnerable to disturbance.

For this reason, we install temporary fencing around their nesting sites each year, which runs from April to July. As always, we’re very grateful to the local community for helping us with these conservation projects and for keeping away from the nesting site.

Finally, as the lighter days and warmer nights increase, so does the amount of litter and fly tipping we see in Epping Forest.

Clearing up rubbish left by visitors is one of the greatest pressures on our charity’s finances.

It damages the health and wellbeing of the forest, in addition to the wildlife which live within it. Every visitor can help us address this - simply take your rubbish home with you.

As always, we have plenty of resources on our website to help you plan your visit, or pop along to the Epping Forest Visitor Centre in Chingford. Our shop and exhibition spaces are well worth a visit.

I hope you find this monthly column informative, but if you have any topics you would like me to cover in future, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at

May I also take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Easter!

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