Epping Forest

United Kingdom

Epping Forest is a 6118 acre ancient woodland stretching 12 miles from east London to just north of Epping in Essex.

The practice of grazing livestock in the Forest goes back over 1000 years and, alongside other management practises such as pollarding, created the distinctive woodland landscape seen today.  These ancient traditions have helped create the rich and unique biodiversity found within Epping Forest, earning much of the Forest its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.



Forest grazing almost ceased following a steady decline and the impact of the 1996 BSE crisis. A ten year Wood-pasture Restoration Project was initiated to re-establish grazing across 600 ha along with re-establishing traditional pollard management over more than 300 ha. With over 4.2 million visitors each year to the Forest and situated in a busy  urban setting pioneering technological solutions, such as invisible electric fencing and GPS tracking of cattle, have proved invaluable in finding practical sustainable solutions.

Community involvement in the Project has been vital and has involved extensive consultations on expanding cattle grazing and traffic management within the Forest along with practical support from volunteers.  Future aims of the Project include expanding the grazing herd to consolidate habitat improvements and to reengage with the lapsed ‘commoners’  to encourage them to again graze livestock within the Forest.




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