Formby residents become lumberjacks for the day

06 November 2015
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Formby resident learns to manage woodland and get wood for his log burner

The creation of a Wood Allotment on the Sefton Coast took a step closer this month. A baker's dozen of Formby residents became lumberjacks for the afternoon learning how to fell safely trees with hand tools. Everyone left happy having learned a new skill and with armfuls of firewood for their wood burning stoves.


Wood allotments enable people to cut trees for firewood in a local woodland in need of thinning with the agreement of the landowner. In return, the felling helps to maintain the woodland for amenity and wildlife.


Each year the management of the wood is rotated, giving trees in some places the chance to grow and others the chance to be thinned out. Areas of woodland are broken into plots and the land owners or rangers mark the trees to be thinned.


The project is being organised through the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership scheme, funded by Heritage Lottery and The Mersey Forest.


Paul Nolan, Director said: "We are really excited that the first wood allotments in the country started in The Mersey Forest and we now have this new opportunity in Formby. The woodlands are enjoyed by many residents, and this is a great way for them to help improve the quality of the woodland for wildlife and other visitors to enjoy."


The Wood Allotments website  contains all the information needed to take part. There is a map showing specific areas of the forest requiring allotmenteers. If you don't live near one of the areas marked on the map, there is also an option to add a pin on the map where you are interested in running your own wood allotment.

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How grants can help your forestry business

20 October 2015
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HPIM5173-1 (Large)

If you're wanting to grow your forestry business, we're hosting two events which will provide more information on the rural funding streams including LEADER, Countryside Productivity and other European support:

A Breakfast Briefing on Thursday 12th November, The Windmill Inn, Chester Road, Tabley, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 0HW, 7.30-9.30am


An Application Masterclass on Tuesday 1st December, The Mersey Forest Offices, Risley Moss, Ordnance Avenue, Birchwood, Warrington, WA3 6QX, 1-4pm

To register your place e-mail or phone Graham on 0300 067 4190. There is limited capacity at each event and so it is essential you register as soon as possible to guarantee your place.


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England's Community Forests come of age

14 October 2015
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The Community Forest movement – of which the Mersey Forest is a proud member – comes of age this year.

It's 21 years since the first seeds were sown of a new movement to increase tree cover in key areas across the country.


England's Community Forests are a now a major national asset. Over half of England's population lives within easy reach of a Community Forest. Our maturing woodlands are becoming magnets for recreation, boosting local economies and setting the scene for future growth and prosperity.


We've taken stock of our achievements and looked ahead at what needs to happen next to build on our success. We've created a short 'manifesto' that outlines the role we can play in the years ahead to address important challenges faced by our economy, our environment and our communities.


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The Mersey Forest hosts visit from prestigious Japanese academics

24 September 2015
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Japanese visitors
The Mersey Forest has welcomed a prestigious team of three Japanese academics for a tour of community forestry in action.

Led by Professor Tomoko Miyagawa, from the University of Wakayama, the academics have been undertaking ground-breaking research on the work of the Forest for more than ten years. This year the focus of their visit was the value of the green space and industrial heritage around Northwich, and how this benefits the economy, tourism and residents of the town.


Prof Miyagawa said "We are delighted to be visiting The Mersey Forest again, and continue our collaboration with colleagues into research around brownfield land regeneration. The international significance of Cheshire's salt industry and how it has shaped the landscape, local people and economy is a story to be told across the world."


On Thursday the academics visited the Lion Salt Works Museum at Marston, Northwich. Thanks to a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and funding from Chester West and Chester Council, this Museum was restored and was re-opened this June. It is set to become one of the finest industrial heritage attractions in the country.


The academics held discussions with officers from Cheshire West and Chester Council who managed the four-year, £10m project to restore the crumbling 19th century buildings – one of the last four historic open-pan salt-making sites in the world.


On Friday, further meetings were held at another 'jewel in the crown' of nearby Cheshire industrial heritage sites - the Anderton Boat Lift. This is the world's first boat lift. The academics viewed the Boat Lift and the latest project, the refurbishment of two toll houses. As part of the Saltscape Landscape Partnership project, the £90,000 restoration project has been delivered by The Canal and River Trust, the charity which cares for the lift and the nation's 2,000 miles of historic canals, and was jointly funded by public donations to the Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest said "We know that Northwich has a fantastic woodlands and parks, connecting Budworth Mere, Anderton Boat Lift, Lion Salt Works as well as the Weaver Navigation, the Trent & Mersey Canal and the town centre. This unique area has been valued as a £150m asset and has the potential to become a major destination for visitors, as well as proving a great place for local residents and whilst underpinning sustainable economic growth."

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Night visitors to the forest

17 September 2015
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Five Spot Burnet moth on flower
The development of the Mersey Forest has given many species of wildlife a boost with many new habitats such as woodlands and grasslands created. Moths are a common feature of our night-time environment, and local naturalist Tom Ferguson has been examining species found in just one Mersey Forest woodland.

We're used to seeing butterflies, but there are far more moth species in the British Isles (roughly 2500 moth species compared with around 60 butterflies). Most moths emerge at night and so are seen by few of us.

Some moths fly in the daytime. For example, Burnet moths can be commonly seen feeding on meadow flowers in grasslands throughout the Mersey Forest area with their distinctive blue/black coloration and red spots.

On three nights during August, local naturalists Tom Ferguson and Brian Judd set up a moth trap on the edge of a small woodland planted as part of the Mersey Forest back in 1985. They caught (and then released) over 200 moths of 42 different species.

The distribution of moths is dependent on a number of factors but of critical importance is the availability of food for caterpillars. Each moth has its own particular tastes. Tom explains:

"For example, the Scalloped Oak despite its name is pretty catholic in its taste and feeds on most trees and shrubs. The Swallow Prominent is more specific – feeding on Poplar, Aspen and Willow – whilst the Sallow Kitten also likes Aspen as well as its namesake. The most dramatic and largest moth we found was the Poplar Hawkmoth whose bright green equally large caterpillar feeds on Poplar , Aspen and Willow."

Tom and Brian's trap revealed that some local moths are very colourful. The Buff Ermine is pale cream with prominent dark spots, the Scalloped Oak a dusky yellow whilst the Brimstone Moth which is partial to Hawthorn and Blackthorn is also yellow with russet markings.

"It's true that the majority of moths are very subdued in their colouration" comments Tom, "but in close up the beauty and subtlety of their markings can be amazing. Of those we found the Old Lady and Antler Moth were particularly striking."

The majority of moths are resident to the UK but some species migrate from continental Europe every year. Most of those are seen in the southern and eastern counties of England. However, the Silver Y, so-called on account of the prominent white mark on its forewing, can be seen commonly in gardens in Merseyside flying by day and night and feeding on a wide range of flowering plants.

Moths can be found in most months of the year although very few fly in midwinter. Warm cloudy nights in July and August can be particularly productive and a good time to go looking. Some local wildlife groups and Rangers organise moth trapping evenings.

Tom suggests: "As well as light, moths can also be attracted to sugar solutions and one option would be to hang up in your garden a cloth soaked in a mixture of beer,sugar and treacle and see what turns up. It's not too late to try this year!"

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