The Settlement of the Epping Forest Question


BY a happy coincidence the Essex Naturalist, containing the full official report of the discussion on the management of Epping Forest, which took place under the auspices of the Essex Field Club on April 28,2 and the Report of the experts appointed by the Corporation of London, have been published almost simultaneously, the former having been issued a fortnight or so before the latter. As the proceedings of the Conservators had been subjected to a running fire of the most vehement criticism ever since last autumn, the question of the management of the forest may be considered to have excited an amount of popular interest such as had never before been raised since the public dedication by the Queen in 1882. The reason for the popular outburst of indignation on the present occasion is to be found in the circumstance that the thinning operations had been carried on in a district which is well known to contain the finest example of a beech wood that the forest offers, viz. Monk Wood, and the amassed heaps of felled trunks, drawn to the roadside for removal, naturally attracted the attention of every passer-by, and gave rise to a not altogether unnatural feeling of uneasiness as to the fate of the forest's show woodland. A fair and unbiassed examination of Monk Wood, however, soon sufficed to dispel any fears of unnecessary destruction or permanent injury, and those whose judgment in such matters is worthy of the most serious attention, did not hesitate to express their belief that the operations had on the whole been carried out judiciously, and for the future benefit of the forest. This conclusion was arrived at in many cases against the preconceived notions of some of the visitors who attended the meeting on April 28, and some speakers in the discussion with great candour admitted that the result of the visitation and the explanations given on the spot had been to cause them to modify their views. This appears most distinctly from the speeches of such well-known friends of the forest as Sir Frederick Young, Prof. Boulger, and Mr. F. C. Gould, and it is only fair to add that many others who, without any special knowledge of forestal operations, attended the meeting, of which the proceedings are now reported, as lovers of the naturally picturesque, had their judgment materially aided by the opportunity given them for comparing portions of the forest which had been severely thinned in former years with other portions which had not yet been attacked. The arguments for and against the conservatorial doings are fully set forth in the Essex Naturalist, and will form an important chapter in the history of the forest management.


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MELDOLA, R. The Settlement of the Epping Forest Question. Nature 50, 225–227 (1894).

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