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Epping Forest - The next 10 years.

Management issues and future proposals for Epping Forest

Introduction

As one of earliest publicly accessible wild landscapes in Britain, Epping Forest predates Britain's National Parks by some 71 years, but shares a common bond in seeking to preserve the wildness of a treasured landscape while guaranteeing widespread public access.

The paradox is that, public access to Epping Forest's 'wildness' needs continuing management to conserve both the Forest's character and its relevance to Londoners as a major recreational resource.

Ongoing management of the Forest's landscape, wildlife and visitors is guided by a Management Plan which outlines the vision and direction for this protected area. A new Management Plan for Epping Forest is being developed for the 10 year period 2017 - 2027. To help guide and inform the new plan, this public consultation seeks your help in assessing management challenges and establishing future priorities.

An Interconnected Forest

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe"

- John Muir 'My First Summer in the Sierras' 1869

The naturalist and author John Muir, often referred to as the 'Father of the National Parks', describes how active management reveals the interconnected nature of wild areas. His words are as relevant today, as they were at the birth of the National Park movement over 100 years ago. A key challenge for the new Management Plan is to develop truly interconnected policies for the continued protection, conservation and public enjoyment of Epping Forest.

Governing Epping Forest

The Conservators[1] of Epping Forest is one of oldest of 15 Conservancies, formed across Britain over the past 155 years. Epping Forest land is held in Charitable Trust and is funded by the City's private resources, charitable grants, public donations, and income generation.

The Forest is governed by twelve elected members of the principal funder (the City of the London Corporation) and four locally elected Verderers[2] - a key voluntary role that that has overseen Forest management since Norman times.

Given the size of Epping Forest, visitor surveys and public consultations play an important role in informing decisions made by the Conservators.

How we are consulting

This consultation is arranged around six themes which broadly represent the Conservator's key duties established by the Epping Forest Acts of 1878 and 1880[3] . Subsequent legislation on a diverse range of subjects is also reflected in the consultation wherever possible.

  • Public recreation [4]  and enjoyment
  • Preservation of the natural aspect[5]
  • Protection of the unspoilt Forest
  • Regulation and management
  • Heritage
  • Deer management

The online consultation process is designed to allow you to comment on any or all of the specific subjects that have been identified as future challenges for Epping Forest. Most individual subjects are crossed referenced. This should help you navigate your way around the sections of the consultation that interests you. The number and variety of these links evidences Muir's claim.

This consultation is restricted to the land defined under the Epping Forest Acts and does not include the further 1,700 acres of 'Buffer Land' [6]  held separately by the City of London to protect the context and setting of Epping Forest.

The new Management Plan will be developed following consideration of the responses to this consultation. Further public consultation will be undertaken during 2016 on the proposed content of the new Management Plan.

 

1. The Conservators are the Mayor, Aldermen and Members of the City of London Corporation assembled in Common Council. The Conservators are charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the Forest under the Epping Forest Act 1878. The City of London is the organisation that owns Epping Forest. The authority of the Conservators is vested in the City of London’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee. [back]
2. First introduced almost 1,000 years ago, Verderers administered Forest Law and protected the ‘vert’ (all the vegetation in the forest) and the ‘venison’ (the hunting animals, principally deer and wild boar) of the forest. Today, elected by the Commoners of Epping Forest once every seven years, the Verderers sit on the management committee of Epping Forest. [back]
3. The Acts of Parliament passed in 1878 and 1880 to protect and conserve Epping Forest as an open space unenclosed and unbuilt upon for the recreation and enjoyment of the public. [back]
4. Any pursuit engaged upon during leisure time, other than pursuits to which people are normally highly committed i.e. shopping, housework, child care etc. [back]
5. No official definition of this term exists. A precursor to ‘natural beauty’, it was coined by Robert Hunter, who drafted the Epping Forest Act with the City of London’s solicitor, Sir Thomas James Nelson. However, there is no definition of the ‘natural aspect’ within the Act and the papers and notes Hunter compiled have since been lost. While it is clear it relates principally to the Forest’s natural landscape, the same section of the Act also makes reference to ‘earthworks’, ‘woodbanks’ and ‘pollards’, which are manmade features of Forest. [back]
6. 735 hectares (1816 acres) of land owned and managed by the City of London around the perimeter of the Forest to preserve the landscape setting and context of the Forest. Buffer land is currently exempt from many of the requirements of the legislation governing the management of the Forest, but is also not protected in the same way. [back]