Survey shows huge hike in Epping Forest visitor numbers during lockdown
A new survey has revealed that Epping Forest saw a huge rise in visitor numbers during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The City of London Corporation, which protects the ancient woodland, said the poll showed a 250% average increase across the site.
The 45 days of lockdown (12% of the year) covered by the poll saw 32% of the anticipated yearly visits. It is estimated that the forest saw 1,377,000 visits during this time.
The survey also showed an increase in cycling in the forest during the lockdown period.
Over 40% of the increase in visitors were by people who had never been to the Forest before, but the majority were from local residents who came to the site whilst working from home or off work.
Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest & Commons Committee, said:
“Now, more than ever, Epping Forest is playing a crucial in the physical and mental health of Londoners.
“We’re very proud of our staff and volunteers who are working so hard to help our visitors stay safe.
“This country is facing a challenge like never before and we must all continue to follow the government rules on social distancing.”
To obtain visitor numbers tally counts were undertaken in June 2020, by City Corporation staff across four locations (Centre Road, High Beech, Jacks Hill and Connaught Water) at the Forest. An online survey and observational study were also carried out.
The City Corporation protects and conserves 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath - and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile.
The City of London Corporation is urging all visitors to act responsibly when visiting its green spaces and take care of the natural environment. It is asking everybody to respect the Countryside Code and bylaws in place when enjoying its open spaces, including not leaving litter behind and using the bins provided or taking their rubbish home.
The City Corporation funds its green spaces with over £29 million a year. They include important wildlife habitats, heritage landscapes, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves and are protected from being built on by special legislation.
These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve.
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
Kristina Drake| Media Officer, Public Services
City of London Corporation
D: 020 7332 1125