East London's key geographical features are the gravel ridges across the north of Redbridge and Havering; the river valleys of the Lea, Beam and Ingrebourne, running southwards into the Thames; and the Thames Estuary itself.

The gravel ridge across the north has a string of ancient parklands and the largest remaining ancient woodland in the area, Hainault Forest.

There are a few sites deep in the metropolis, the largest of which are Claybury Park in Redbridge and Wanstead Park at the southern end of Epping Forest. Otherwise most are in the Metropolitan Green Belt and in the Dagenham Corridor, a wedge of open land almost splitting the metropolis into two, with the Beam Valley at its southern end. Here you will find ancient woods and historic parks alongside new woodlands planted by the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission, most within the Thames Chase Community Forest.

In the south-east lie the Ingrebourne Marshes, holding much of London's remaining floodplain grassland and its largest continuous reedbed.