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Cheshire farmers to work together to improve the environment and reduce flooding

08 February 2018

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River Wheelock near Middlewich
A group of farmers along the River Dane corridor near Middlewich and Northwich are to work in partnership with The Mersey Forest and Reaseheath College to improve water management and restore nature habitats.
The Lower Dane Farmers group of 22 landowners has been formed thanks to a successful application to Natural England's Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund. The Fund rewards groups of farmers for coming together to work out the best ways to improve the natural environment across their land, providing habitats for wildlife on a landscape scale to better aid conservation of important species. The Lower Dane Farmers group is one of 98 clusters of farmers funded to carry out this work across England.

The group will identify opportunities for improving water quality and, where appropriate, slowing the flow of floodwaters. This could be achieved through the installation of features such as leaky dams and wetlands that hold water in the landscape during storm events. The group will also use land management to reduce the risk of soil and nutrient losses, for example planting trees to reduce soil erosion and overland flow.

The group will be facilitated by a partnership between The Mersey Forest and Reaseheath College. Members own land within the catchments of the Lower Dane including Fowle Brook, Wheelock Brook and the main stem of the Dane between Middlewich and Northwich. The Dane corridor is prone in flooding in places and therefore poses some significant challenges for farmers along the main watercourse. The group are interested in working together to tackle flood risk, manage soils in the floodplain, and create opportunities for new and restored wildlife habitats.

It is hoped that through the work of local farmers, the River Dane will become a flagship example of how environmental management of rivers can be achieved by farmers and landowners themselves, benefiting farm businesses, wildlife and the wider community.

If you would like to enquire about membership of either group, please contact

Photo: Copyright Dr Duncan Pepper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Communities to help bring new Tree Charter to life

07 February 2018

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Family walking in the woods
Last November saw the launch of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People and now community groups within The Mersey Forest will help to put the Charter into practice through a series of events to boost our local woodland culture.
Funded by the Big Lottery's Award's for All, the events aim to encourage local people to access and help manage their local woodlands for the purposes of health, education and environmental stewardship.

9 million trees have been planted over the last 25 years within The Mersey Forest. These trees are flourishing into a maturing forest and providing a new resource for local communities, many of which are facing increasing health and economic inequalities.

The Charter aims to place trees and woods back at the heart of our lives and communities, redefining the relationship between people and trees. Our events and activities will put that into practice. They include:
  • Family Forest School
  • Woodland management days
  • Nature observation walks
  • Family friendly celebration of the woods event.
The grant will also provide The Mersey Forest with an opportunity to consult with communities within the forest on how to implement the new Forest Charter and will facilitate an educational conference aimed at community leaders which will highlight the potential of the maturing forest and foster support for its ongoing development.

Our first 'Forest Charter' event will be a community tree planting event at the Countess of Chester Country Park on Sat 24th March 11am – 3pm. 

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Good news for trees in the 25 Year Environment Plan

11 January 2018

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We welcome the government's new 25 Year Environment Plan, which aims to increase woodland cover to 12% and provide high quality, accessible, natural spaces close to where people live and work. 
The new Plan features the work of The Mersey Forest as a case study to illustrate the goal of increasing green infrastructure in urban areas. 

Chair of the Mersey Forest Steering Group, Pat McCloskey said:

"It is great to see that the hard work of the Mersey Forest Partnership is recognised in the new 25 Year Plan for the environment. We particularly welcome the focus on how, by creating new community woodlands, we can help to improve health and wellbeing of our communities and also the increasing focus on how natural flood management can help reduce flood risk. We look forward to using this impetus to continue to deliver the Mersey Forest Plan."

Good news for trees and the growth of the Mersey Forest in the Plan includes commitments to:
  • Increase woodland in England in line with an aspiration of 12% cover by 2060;
  • Ensure there are high quality, accessible, natural spaces close to where people live and work, particularly in urban areas;
  • Incentivise extra tree planting on private and the least productive agricultural land, where appropriate;
  • Support the development of a new Northern Forest that crosses the country in a belt of trees, using the M62 corridor as its spine;
  • Design a new woodland creation grant scheme;
  • Appoint a national Tree Champion to promote the unique blend of social, economic and environmental benefits offered by trees and forests;
  • Expand the use of Natural Flood Management including appropriate tree planting;
  • Publish a Tree Health Resilience Plan later in 2018 to protect against tree pest and diseases;
  • 'Green' our towns and cities by creating green infrastructure and planting one million urban trees.
There's also good news for the communities living within The Mersey Forest who look set to benefit from the Plan's commitment to connect people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing. This includes a focus on linking mental health services with environmental therapies in green spaces – something we're working hard to establish through our Natural Health Service in Cheshire

Our work helping schools plant trees and become Forest Schools has been inspiring and transformative, so we also warmly welcome the development of a new Nature Friendly Schools programme for schools.

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New Natural Health Service will help 3,000 Cheshire residents get active in the great outdoors

10 January 2018

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We're encouraging Cheshire residents to get active in this New Year by joining a free new 'natural health service' as an alternative to gyms or fitness classes.
The service has unveiled a timetable of health-promoting, enjoyable group activities in eight locations across the west of the county. Sessions range from walking to horticultural therapy; from getting stuck in with practical conservation activities to more relaxing Mindful Contact with Nature. Each activity takes place within one of Cheshire West & Chester's inspiring green spaces. Both adults and children are catered for and all activities are designed to be welcoming to complete beginners.

There's a growing body of evidence that taking part in activities in the natural environment can have a significant impact on improving your health and wellbeing. Over the next three years the project is working to get over 3,000 people involved, aiming to increase their physical activity by 40% and wellbeing by 20%.

The new service is supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, Big Lottery and The Mersey Forest.

Suzanne Londra, who manages the programme said: "If you've been thinking of getting more active this year, our Natural Health Service is a friendly and fun place to start. There's something for everyone no matter your age or ability. It's a great opportunity to get fitter, meet new people and enjoy some of Cheshire's best green spaces."

Full programme of activities

As well as the outdoor sessions, there are also opportunities to get involved with local conservation 'friends of' groups in the county.

To find out more about the Natural Health Service contact Suzanne Londra on 01925 816217 or e-mail


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Plans unveiled for 50 million tree new Northern Forest

07 January 2018

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Northern Forest image
The Woodland Trust and The Community Forest Trusts plans have been approved to create an exciting new Northern Forest that will comprise of over 50million trees over 25 years and will stretch from Liverpool across to Hull with the M62 as its spine.

The project will embrace the major cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Chester and Hull as well as major towns across the north. It will deliver major environmental, social and economic benefits that complement the significant growth, investment and new infrastructure that is planned for the north of England.

The Northern Forest will both accelerate the creation of new woodland and support sustainable management of existing woods right across the area. Many more trees, woods and forests will deliver a better environment for all by: improving air quality in our towns and cities; mitigating flood risk in key catchments; supporting the rural economy though tourism, recreation and timber production; connecting people with nature; and helping to deliver improvements to health and wellbeing through welcoming and accessible local green spaces.

Paul Nolan, Director of the Mersey Forest said:

"The Northern Forest will complement the planned £75bn of hard infrastructure investment across the M62 corridor. We have shown that we can lock up over 7m tonnes of carbon as well as potentially reduce flood risk for 190,000 homes. The Northern Forest can also help to deliver improved health and wellbeing, through programmes such as the Natural Health Service. Community Forests have a long track record of developing partnerships and, most importantly, working with local communities to create new woodlands and manage existing woods in and around our towns and cities. We welcome the government support for the idea and we are looking forward to accelerating the work of the Community Forests across the Northern Forest."

There are currently five Community Forests that sit within the proposed area for the Northern Forest including, City of Trees, White Rose Forest, Mersey Forest, HEYwoods and South Yorkshire Forest.

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