£6m package finalised to protect and develop Hainault Forest

Hainault Forest Country Park in outer northeast London will gain from a substantial funding package including National Lottery support of £4.5million.

Image: London Borough of Redbridge
Image: London Borough of Redbridge

The Hainault Ancient Forest: a Landscape for the Future project will focus on four keys areas: investment into the landscape and buildings, updating the park's children’s zoo, and providing a greater range of activities for visitors.

It will also bring skills and training opportunities, including in conservation management, animal husbandry and fruit harvesting.

The site's owner the London Borough of Redbridge will also invest £1.25m into the project, with a further £250,000 coming from Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure, bringing the total investment to £6m.

The last fragment of a medieval Royal hunting forest established by Henry I, the 325-hectare forest includes ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is home to more than 940 species of invertebrates, 79 of which are nationally scarce.

Councillor Sheila Bain, Cabinet Member for Civic Pride, said: "The investment will allow Redbridge to more effectively protect habitats and species that are currently in decline. It will also offer much more to visitors who will be able to enjoy the adapted historic buildings and our popular zoo, which will be modified to a centre for the captive breeding of UK native species that are under threat."

The work is expected to boost visitor numbers from 500,000 to 800,000 each year.

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