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…In Redbridge!

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Hainault Forest Country Park is in the early stages of a £6m restoration project which will see it undergo a programme of work focusing on four key areas – investment in biodiversity, landscape and buildings, works to re-focus the popular children’s zoo and to improve the range of activities on offer for visitors.

Nature walk

On 9 December 2017 a group joined Francis Castro, Senior Ranger and Project Manager at Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure, for a guided winter stroll around Hainault Forest. In beautiful winter sunshine, over the course of two hours, they learned about the flora and fauna, as well as the restoration plans.

In January 2017, the HLF announced support of £4.5m, including development funding of £218,800, for Hainault Forest Country Park’s “Hainault Ancient Forest – a Landscape for the Future” project. The Council will also contribute £1.25m to the project with a further £250,000 from Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure. This brings total investment to £6m. When the project is complete, it is envisaged that Hainault Forest Country Park will be enabled to become financially self-sufficient, and the current Council subsidy will end.

Tree walk

Covering a total of 800 acres, Hainault Forest includes 250 acres of greenbelt, ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is the last fragment of a medieval Royal hunting forest established by Henry I that included Hatfield and Epping.

The forest is also pivotal for local and regional wildlife. To date, 158 species of bird have been recorded in the forest including turtle doves, bullfinches, and three species of woodpecker. There are also more than 940 species of invertebrates such as butterflies and dragonflies, 79 of which are nationally scarce.

Friends of Wanstead Parklands member Richard Arnopp, who went on the walk, said –

“Hainault Forest is important both as a haven for wildlife and a much-needed recreational space for Redbridge’s growing population. It is also a historic landscape with ancient trees, including many pollards, which bear witness to its long management as wood-pasture”.

Richard continued –

“Francis Castro (Vision RCL), the London Borough of Redbridge and the HLF are to be congratulated for this initiative. We hope that the “Hainault Ancient Forest” project will guarantee the future of this special place for many years to come”.

Camelot Path Hainault Forest Country Park is managed by Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure on behalf of the London Borough of Redbridge.




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A week in the life of a work experience student


What a week… Last Monday was the day I finally started my work experience placement, in Valentines Park. I always dreaded work experience after my past experience and hearing stories about how I would just be sitting around waiting on staff and providing them with the occasional beverage; but how wrong I was.

Day 1

Day 1 began and I readied myself for a day sat inside a cramped office waiting on staff, with no real purpose or use. I was taken through the park with my work experience supervisor, and ended up at a mansion surrounded by the gardens of Valentines Park. We began to stop and I came to the realisation that this is where I would be spending some of my work experience placement time.


As I entered, the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming; offering me drinks and biscuits, I even received my own desk! So day 1 officially started and I began with general office work which was good as it enabled me to gain a feeling for what I might encounter if I was to enter a similar work place, of which I want to take part in after my A levels. Eleven o’clock came and I was told to go downstairs and help out with a school trip coming to view the mansion. This was great, as it enabled me to not only interact with the public but also learn some facts about the 300 year old mansion I was spending my time in. Time flew by and before I knew it I was back in the office attending to folders and organising work for the staff, I really felt like I was part of a team.



Day 2

Day 2 came around and I continued with office work, even being given the responsibility to count out the money before the start of the day. Tuesday was open day and so I got to help out with showing people around the mansion. It also allowed me to use my knowledge about the mansion and provide them with facts which they may not have found in the leaflets.

Day 3

Day 3 is where it changed. I explored the other side of the park and worked closer with my work experience guide, down in Wash Lodge. I carried out more office work and was even given the responsibility of work specifically for the manager in that team.


Day 4

Day 4 seemed to be another day, until my supervisor surprised me with a farm visit in one of the local parks which they help run and manage (Hainault Forest Country Park). This was great as it allowed me to relax from the office environment, whilst learning about one of the parks which they are looking to improve in the future. I was also able to see some animals which you wouldn’t normally expect to see so close by, for example the emus and meerkats; I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about this place!

Day 5

My final day of work experience came around so quickly but the fun wasn’t over yet. I went and worked with the final team (Parks operative team). This allowed a gentle end to the week whilst spending some time catching some sun.

I loved the variation which I was given whilst working there and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work around. I know this will help me in any future jobs that I might have, and it’s nice to know that the people looking after our parks and open spaces care for what they are doing.

Guest Writer: Louis Machon

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Have Your Say: Development of Hainault Forest Country Park

We are looking at the long term improvement of Hainault Forest Country Park. Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure have arranged the following meetings to consult with residents and park users for their thoughts and ideas: 

Guided walk

Come along to our guided walk around the Country Park, followed by a short presentation and facilitated discussion with refreshments.

  • Sunday 9 February, leaving from the Global Café at 10.30am.

Open Public Meetings

A presentation on Hainault Forest Country Park including current facilities and an explanation of consultation process. Followed by a facilitated group discussion about what residents/users would like to see.

  • Tuesday 11 February, 7.45pm at Main Hall, Town Hall, Ilford
  • Thursday 13 February, 6.30pm at Fullwell Cross Library, Barkingside

If you can’t make any of the meetings above, please help us by completing this short survey (PDF 32 KB), once completed, save it to your computer, you will then be able to return it to us by email as an attachment to:

Make sure you have your say.

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Hainault Lodge Work Day

We need your help to take care of our only local nature Reserve! Did you know that Hainault Lodge is the first and only Nature Reserve in the entire of the London Borough of Redbridge to be designated? Join the nature conservation team this Thursday (17th October) from 10 am – 2.30 pm, for a day of practical conservation work, and support them as they work to preserve this beautiful space.

Nature reserves are protected areas that provide havens for a multitude of wildlife. Within these sanctuaries the chance for different species to flourish and survive is greatly heightened. With the vast and rapid increase in urban areas in Britain, it is becoming more important each day to take care of the few wild spaces we have left. The largest and healthiest communities of birds, insects, mammals and wildflowers are now mostly found in protected nature areas and sadly nowhere else.

Years ago Britain would have been bursting with life, overflowing with greenery and creatures. Now it is just stacked full with buildings, roads and waste disposal sites.

Not only is it important to keep our country green to save animals and insects, it is also vital for our own human survival. Unless we do something to counteract the severe damage we have done to our planet and drastically decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere we are all in big trouble. In fact, the risk of dangerous climate change is becoming so high that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change has turned to geoengineering. They plan to create the largest industry in history: by making a series of giant CO2-suckers – devices that will literally suck greenhouse gases out of the air. Unless we do something, and do something soon the earth could warm this century by more than 2 °C, and it is not known if the human race can adapt to such a change.  The plan to suck  CO2 out of Britain’s air is to plant thousands of new trees.

It is thought changes will be implemented by 2100 but you can help make a difference now. Lend a hand at your local conservation sites and be part of getting our planet back on track. Help us stop species from becoming endangered or extinct, help us save our environment, help us save our planet.

This free event is open to adults. If you would like to join us then please meet at Redbridge Cycling Centre Car Park, Forest Road, Hainault, IG6 3HP.

If you have any questions at all please give us a ring on 020 8559 2316 or visit the Redbridge i Nature pages for more information.

Post Author: Emily Polling

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Woodland Management

All over the world our landscapes are being built upon and developed into vast urban areas. This worrying trend can be seen stretching right across Britain as we lose more and more of our beautiful green spaces each year.  Even if you haven’t noticed it yet,  in a few years’ time you definitely will. If we continue to cut into our countryside without putting anything back soon there will be no more country parks, no more gardens, no more fields, no more green.

Aristotle once rightly said ‘in all things of nature there is something of the marvellous’so let’s take note from these words and help protect our rural areas and keep the magic of nature alive.  An action as simple as planting a tree for every one that gets cut down could help keep our world green.

We need you to help us in our mission to protect our environmental spaces! Join the rangers and lend them a hand on Tuesday 1st October as they aim to thin and restore more open areas within the secondary woodland, create maiden pollards and widen some of the main woodland rides.

Even the smallest of actions has a big impact; if everyone helps to look after their local areas then maybe we won’t lose our countryside after all. Let’s keep Redbridge the ‘Leafy Borough!’

This event is free and open to adults; it will take place at Hainault Forest Country Park between 10 am – 2.30 pm.

Joining instructions: meet at the second car park, IG7 4QN

Enquiries: 020 8559 2316

Post Author –  Emily Polling