Introduction to the Study Area

Epping Forest is an historic woodland lying in the west of the county of Essex on the ridge of high ground which separates the Lea Valley on the west from the Roding Valley on the east, and which extends southwards into what are now the London Boroughs of Redbridge, Newham and Waltham Forest. The map is a wildlife recording map of the study area.


Map of Southern Epping ForestMap of Southern Epping Forest


In the early 1970's I began to take an interest in plants as well as birds, and began to discover the wealth of other wildlife that may be found in the area. At about the same time members of the local Wren Conservation Group - now the Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group - began gathering records of the flora of the southern end of Epping Forest.

The Group had a commitment to biological recording in the Forest south of the Waterworks Corner roundabout on the North Circular Road on behalf of the Epping Forest Conservation Centre. For the purpose of biological recording, the Epping Forest Conservation Centre divides the forest into 38 areas, of which the four most southerly comprise the area of study of the Wren Conservation Group. The Epping Forest areas the Group has studied include Wanstead Park, Wanstead Flats, Bush Wood, Leyton Flats, Gilbert's Slade and the Exchange Land - the disused Redbridge Southern Sewage Work which is now part of Epping Forest.

In addition, members of the Group have taken an interest in other sites in the area. These include St Mary's Churchyard at Wanstead; the Friends Meeting House grounds in Bush Wood; the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park; the Alders Brook area between the City of London Cemetery and the River Roding; Manor Park Cemetery; and - just outside of the Forest area - St Mary Magdalene's Churchyard nature reserve in East Ham.

Wanstead Wildlife's study area includes all of those above with the exception of East Ham Nature Reserve, but I have incorporated some other local areas instead.

By the end of the 2000s the Group had tended to restrict its area of prime interest to Wanstead Park. New records of the area's wildlife - always thought to have been an important area of the Group's work - had become sparse due to lack of recorders, but practical work still took place usually each month in Wanstead Park, as well as occasional field trips to other areas.

Aerial view of Wanstead areaAn aerial view of part of the study area. Aerial view of part of the study area. Whiskers Island and Wanstead Park are in the forground, with the Exchange Lands and City of London Cemetery to the left. Beyond the Aldersbrook Estate is Wanstead Flats

With the lack of contributors to the Wren Group's records, and the demise of its database, I collated old Wren Group records into my own database and have continued to add to that whenever possible. I felt that these should be accessible to any that wish to view them, and the Wanstead Wildlife website might help that aim. Similarly, it may be useful for people to be able to see what some of our local wildlife looks like, so a collection of photographs is available on the site.


The Wren Wildlife and Conservation Group's website is at

A good site for photos of local wild-life is East London Nature

For more information about the Parklands of Wanstead - its history, archaeology and the people that use it - try the Friends of Wanstead Parklands website