The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project scooped the Be Active in Our World Award at the Echo Environment Awards last night.
The project helps more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those who face social exclusion or those that currently have little or no contact with the natural environment, and runs in two Merseyside neighbourhoods: Sutton Manor in St.Helens and West Derby in Liverpool. These areas were chosen as they are home to several new or revamped woodlands and green spaces created on derelict or brownfield land.
The project has helped different sections of the community – from school children to adults with mental health issues – to discover these new sites and to be physically active on a regular basis.
Activities have included group cycle rides, community tree planting, woodland management task days, family events, outdoor education training for local teachers, and regular "Forest School" lessons in woodlands for school children. The Liverpool and St.Helens project is part of the national Access to Nature programme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Judges chose Access to Nature as the award winner thanks to its track record of getting over 2000 people active in their communities.
Environmental champions from all over the city gathered at Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool for the glittering ceremony, which included business and community awards.
The Mersey Forest-sponsored Corporate Responsibility Award went to Heap and Partners, a valve manufacturer, who have made great strides in ensuring their corporate responsibility over a number of years.
Other winners included Anthony Beyga, who jointly won the Give Environment Award for his services to the community along with Edward Feeney. Anthony Beyga has been particularly active around Mab Lane Community Woodland, championing the budding woodland and documenting its progress through his photography.
Natural Choices project North End Writers also won the Take Notice in our World Award, as a result of their project to help people express their creativity and appreciation of nature through writing.
Well done to all of the winners and those shortlisted. You can see more photographs of the winners on the Liverpool Echo website.
Judges from the Royal Forestry Society visited two Mersey Forest sites yesterday - both of which have been shortlisted for an Urban Forestry award.
In Knowsley, the judges were given a tour of the Northwood Forest Hills woodland which has been transformed in recent years, and also the adjacent neighbourhood which has been brightened by the planting of more than 160 street trees as part of The Mersey Forest's Green Streets programme.
The judges then made the short trip to Liverpool to visit Mab Lane Community Woodland (pictured - photo by Tony Beyga). The woodland was created to celebrate Liverpool's 2008 European Capital of Culture year, and has turned a frequently flooded and under-used field into a thriving young woodland which local residents say has made a "100% improvement" to the local area.
The winner will be announced this summer.
Wow - nearly 180 families have already said on Facebook that they'll be attending Mab's Magical Fair, our free family day out at one of Liverpool's newest woodlands.
Join them on Saturday 18th May 2013 from 12-4pm, for woodland crafts and enchanted fun at Mab Lane Community Woodland, near Stockbridge Village. Children of all ages can come along dressed up as elves, fairies and wizards, or they can make their own crown, wand and wings at our secret Forest School in the woods.
May is national Walk in the Woods month, and in Merseyside and North Cheshire there are more than 120 guided woodland walks for you to enjoy.
Visit our online guide to see the full listings or to search for what's on near you. The walks are organised by a wide range of providers within The Mersey Forest Partnership, from local authority ranger events, to Walking for Health walks to community groups' wildlife rambles.
More than a quarter of people who live in The Mersey Forest area visit their local woods at least once a week. There's no better time to join them.
Three of The Mersey Forest's projects have been shortlisted for two separate awards - the Echo Environment Awards and the Royal Forestry Society Awards.
The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project has been nominated for the Be Active in Our World Award as part of the Echo Environment Awards, which recognises community projects that encourage people to become physically active.
Meanwhile, the Northwood Green Streets project and Mab Lane Community Woodland project have been shortlisted for the Urban Forestry Category in the Royal Forestry Society Awards, which aims to recognise innovations in urban forestry.
Other nominees of the Echo Environment Awards include businesses Heap and Partners, Black Frost, and Fieldway Supplies Ltd, who have been nominated for The Mersey Forest Corporate Responsibility Award, and local community groups Tomorrow's Women Wirral, North End Writers, Acorn Farm and Cycle Liverpool South.
Liverpool community volunteer Anthony Beyga has also been nominated for the Give Environment Award in recognition of his work at Mab Lane Community Woodland.
The winners of the Echo Environment awards are set to be announced on 16 May at an awards ceremony at the Isla Gladstone Conservatory, while the winners of the Royal Forestry Society Awards will also be announced in the summer.
Visit the Liverpool Echo website to view the full shortlist of nominees for the Echo Environment Awards.