Visitors asked to help protect Epping Forest’s rare bluebells

Visitors are being asked not to pick or trample on Epping Forest’s Native English bluebells.

The Conservators of Epping Forest have observed the increasing popularity of posting pictures of the bluebells on social media, which has led to more visitors picking and walking on the wildflowers.

When the plants are trampled on, it can take them four to seven years to re-establish and grow again.

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.

Bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Epping Forest byelaws, which prohibit removing the plants from the Forest.

Chalet Wood in Wanstead Park is the most popular site in the Forest for bluebells. New signage will be installed in the wood to remind visitors to remain on paths and not pick any wildflowers.

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

“Enchanting and iconic, bluebells are a sign that spring has finally sprung.

“This natural spectacle has been enjoyed for generations. However, the past few years have been hugely damaging to our rare bluebell population.

“Sadly, a growing number of visitors seem to care more about getting a social media moment, than the lasting damage they leave behind. Even when not visible above ground, the bulbs can be damaged by heavy footfall.

“Bluebells serve an important purpose in the Forest’s unique ecosystem, such as feeding early pollinators like bees.

“To avoid us having to close off areas of Epping Forest, we hope that by explaining why these sites are so important, alongside new pathways and signage, visitors will work with us to protect these wonderful bluebells for years to come.”

The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches – 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