Photographer to help raise awareness of thousands of precious, ancient trees living in Epping Forest

By Suzi Muston in Environment

Photographer Marion Sidebottom has been announced as the City of London Corporation’s new artist in residence at Epping Forest.

She has been awarded Arts Council England Funding for the project which is called You Can’t See the Trees for the Woods.

Marion is an award-winning photographer who will work with Jeremy Dagley, the City Corporation’s head of conservation at Epping Forest, to identify and take photographic portraits of individual ‘keystone’ veteran trees around Epping Forest.

Selected for their age and ecological importance, keystone trees are the 1,200 most important trees in the Forest for maintaining biodiversity.

A collection of these photographs will be displayed in a pop up exhibition at The View visitor centre on 13 and 14 July.

The exhibition will coincide with the Ancient Tree Forum summer conference and the signing of a Concordat with the City Corporation which aims to protect ancient trees.

In the second part of the project she will be speaking to different people who use the forest and collecting stories and images of their favourite ancient trees for an online storybook and gallery.

There will be an exhibition of this work in March 2018.

Philip Woodhouse, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest Committee, said: “Many of the UK’s rarest wildlife species need ancient and veteran trees. A lot of them are only found at places like Epping Forest, where people have managed the site continuously and extended the trees’ lives.

"There are over 50,000 ancient trees in this woodland, and Marion’s work will raise awareness of how precious they are and how important they are to the people who visit and enjoy the Forest.”

Marion Sidebottom said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to work with two of my great passions in life, photography and trees, with the support of Arts Council England and the staff in Epping Forest.

"I hope that my work will encourage people to view important trees within the forest not only as valuable assets to the environment but also for their cultural value to people on a personal level.”

The City of London Corporation manages over 11,000 acres of green space across London and south east England, including Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches, with many of its sites designated National nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest for their unique ecology and rare plant species.

Epping Forest is London and Essex’s largest open space, attracting 4.2 million visits a year.

It has over 1 million trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old – including 50,000 ancient pollards of Beech, Hornbeam and Oak.

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