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News

Australian minister goes walkabout in Mersey Forest

25 April 2018

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Australian-visit
Australia's Natural Resources Minister, The Hon Rick Colless, took a tour of some key sites and projects in the Mersey Forest to explore our approach to community forestry.

Accompanied by officials from Defra, he viewed the Trees For Learning initiative, Forest School at Green Lane Special School, Warrington and visited the Countess of Chester Country Park. Colless visited a number of organisations and green spaces in the US and the UK in March and April to find out more about international approaches to conservation and forestry.

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Chester residents plant 800 new trees to mark the advent of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

18 April 2018

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Planting trees at the Countess of Chester Country Park
Charter comes to life as community comes together to expand woodland for the future.

An event to plant 800 new trees and mark the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People attracted a great turnout at the Countess of Chester Country Park on Saturday 14th April.

The new trees, which will benefit both wildlife and future generations of Chester residents, include oak, alder, silver birch, hornbeam, hazel, maple, crab apple and wild cherry. 

Local ward member, Cllr Matt Bryan, who is a member of The Mersey Forest Steering Group said, "We had a brilliant day, the first sunny day on the year and planted 800 trees. Families and couples of all ages came to plant and we had a thoroughly great time. Added to the 3000 we planted last season, this brings the total to 3800 extra trees to enjoy in the park in the future."

Much of the park is located on a former landfill site next to the Countess of Chester Hospital, which was closed in the 1970s. It now provides paths and trails for walking, running and cycling, plus a range of habitats for wildlife. Woodland on the site is being expanded as part of a major partnership project.

The tree planting was supported by the Land Trust, Cheshire West and Chester Council, The Conservation Volunteers, Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park and The Mersey Forest. The event was the first of a series that aim to bring the new Tree Charter to life in our area.

Land Trust estate manager Sarah Palgrave-Neath added: "Since opening in September 2014, the park has become a thriving natural space for the whole community to enjoy. Only the other day a visitor commented to one of the 'Friends of the Park', this place gets better every day, there's always something new happening."

If you would like to get involved with helping to improve the Countess of Chester Country Park contact the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park at friends.coccp@gmail.com or call Sarah Palgrave-Neath at 01925 852005 for more information.

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Pupils put down roots to slow the flow

08 March 2018

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t4l-slow-flow2
Primary school children and a local landowner in St Helens came together to plant trees this week as part of a range of environmental improvements linked to both national and local schemes.
Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School and local landowner Neil Stanley worked with the Mersey Forest to plant around 250 native trees and saplings at Moss House Farm, Rainford.

The tree-planting is one of a number developments made possible by funding provided as part of Electricity North West's planning commitment, through St. Helens Council, to reduce the visual impact of the power line recently installed in the area.  The school's involvement is through a Defra-backed 'Trees for Learning' project to support primary schools to plant 1million trees by 2020.  This initiative is being delivered through England's Community Forests (of which the Mersey Forest is one) and the Woodland Trust.

But the planting also forms part of a wider strategy of 'natural flood management' methods being implemented by the Sankey Catchment Partnership.

 Mike Norbury from the Mersey Forest said, "Planting trees is one of a number of sustainable measures the Catchment Partnership is implementing to improve water quality and alleviate the risk of flooding further downstream.

As a Catchment Partnership we look at natural, low-cost ways to 'slow the flow' when it comes to long-term natural flood management, and tree-planting can make a big contribution to reducing flood risk.  It's great that we're teaming up with the local school children on Trees for Learning today and that the children can see first-hand the important role trees play in shaping the landscape and managing the countryside".

Steph Hepworth, from the Mersey Forest's Trees for Learning project said, "We're so excited to see Corpu Christi pupils involved in this scheme.   The children will learn how to identify lots of new trees and then roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, digging holes and planting the trees themselves. Our staff and teachers from the school will have the opportunity to discuss biodiversity with the children:  prompting them to consider how trees link to other important issues like health, climate change and, especially in this case, natural flood management schemes.  Defra's Trees for Learning programme links to the national curriculum and we hope that here in Rainford it will create a sense of ownership amongst the children and spark an interest in how their actions can make a difference to their shared community and its immediate environment."

If you know a school which would like to be involved in Trees for Learning, or if you are a landowner who could provide land for tree planting with a view to supporting natural flood prevention contact the Mersey Forest on 01925 816 217.

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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 hub@reaseheath.ac.uk

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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