Bringing an ancient forest back together
Hainault Forest in Essex is one of our flagship woods in central England, and was once part of a large royal forest known as the Great Forest of Essex. In 1851 the Crown Lands Act was passed for the disafforestation of the Forest. Over 100,000 trees (3,000 acres of woodland) were cut down in 6 short weeks and the land was then turned over – fairly unsuccessfully – to agriculture to feed the growing population of London. Luckily, what remains as Hainault Forest today was saved from felling – largely due to the efforts of Edward North Buxton, a local Londoner and nature campaigner.
In 2006 we acquired an extension to Hainault Forest, allowing us to create a valuable buffer for its ancient woodland habitat, and we’re now excited to announce that we have just acquired a further 65 acres (26 hectares) to create an additional extension to the existing Havering site. This new land and the woodland creation opportunities it offers will add to the existing ancient woodland buffer and create significant areas of new habitat for wildlife.
The acquisition of the Havering extension will provide around 10 hectares of new woodland creation and up to 16 hectares of open ground and wood pasture, as well as new opportunities to engage with local schools with planting events. Sitting on the doorstep of the vast population of London, the landscape provides a real opportunity to inspire people with our cause and to help foster local support to ensure the sustainable future of the forest in years to come.
Hainault Forest has always been historically important, often being cited as the birthplace of the conservation movement in the UK, which makes it all the more rewarding to see it coming back together again. This acquisition marks the start of another exciting new chapter in the story of the forest landscape, so watch this space for future updates!