Epping Forest set to break records by exceeding 10 million visits in 2023

A new method of surveying visitors has revealed Epping Forest  – London and Essex’s largest green space  – is projected to receive over 10 million visits in 2023, a record for the site.

The City of London Corporation, which manages Epping Forest as a registered charity, commissioned HUQ to survey footfall across the 2,400 hectare Forest using mobile phone data. All data is completely anonymised and no individual users can be identified.

The survey captured visitor movements from 2019 onwards, showing that in the first quarter of 2023 the Forest received close to 2.7 million visits. 

The figure is the highest level of footfall of any quarter on record – indicating visits this year are on track to surpass the pre-pandemic number of 10 million.

The survey revealed that visitors to the Forest are predominantly local people from across East London and Essex who come to the Forest regularly, visiting on average 7.5 times a month.

Epping Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and one of the few remaining extensive natural woodlands in southern England. It also provides a range of sports and leisure facilities, holiday rentals, hospitality venues, education sites and a number of heritage and cultural landmarks.

The survey suggests that Epping Forest is also a site which is growing in national importance, with visitors travelling from a 160-mile radius of the ancient woodland.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, Ben Murphy, said:

“This survey shows that Epping Forest is an invaluable resource to the millions of people who visit every year.

“As conservators and charity trustees, we have to balance the needs of visitors with our responsibility to protect this internationally important landscape. 

“Using data to measure visitor movements will allow us to better allocate our resources and manage risks in future.”

The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green spaces in London and south east England – including Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches and Hampstead Heath – and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile, investing more than £38m a year.

These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk