Prince Harry will pay a visit to Epping Forest this Wednesday, to view the Wood Pasture Restoration Project which is part of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. During his visit, Prince Harry will learn about the area’s natural heritage and meet with the people involved with the conservation of ancient trees.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) is a conservation initiative which aims to create a global network of indigenous forests in order to benefit benefit local communities and wildlife, both now and in the future. The project was launched by Her Majesty at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015.
Prince Harry will have the chance to view firsthand the work being undertaken at Epping Forest as a part of the QCC project, including efforts to reinstate cattle grazing using satellite collars and the introduction fenceless grazing technology. The Prince will also meet a team of arborists and receive a briefing on wood pasture management.
Later, His Royal Highness will meet local school children involved in conservation activities to increase awareness of the value of indigenous forests. Their efforts include conducting tree investigations, identifying plant health problems and pond dipping. Finally, the Prince will get have to get his hands dirty and plant a tree to mark the dedication of Epping Forest to the QCC project.
Epping Forest is London’s largest open space, covering an area of around 2,400 hectares. It was opened in 1882 by Queen Victoria, who dedicated the forest to “the use and enjoyment of my people for all time”. At present, Epping Forest is home to over a million trees, which have been maintained through traditional tree management practices such as cattle grazing and pollarding (pruning the upper branches of trees after they reach a certain height). The forest is located within the city’s urban space, and is managed by the City of London Corporation. The Corporation dedicated Epping Forest to the QCC in 2016.
Prince Harry previously visited a number of QCC dedications during his visit to the Caribbean in 2016, including forests in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent.
Since its inception, 21 Commonwealth nations, including Canada, Australia, Singapore and Sri Lanka have dedicated conservation and forestry projects to the QCC, with others like India, Malaysia and Kenya expected to commit to the initiative in the near future. It is expected that all 52 Commonwealth Nations will have joined the QCC initiative by the next Heads of Government Meeting in 2018. The forest area contributed to the project by these countries will be preserved in perpetuity to mark The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.