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New opportunity for landowners in the Sankey catchment

08 March 2017

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Pilkingtons with filter
There's a new opportunity for landowners in the Sankey Catchment. By working together we can access grants and support through the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund (CSFF)

We're looking for landowners in the area to sign up now. We need a total combined landholding of 2,000 hectares to sign up to make the Sankey Catchment area eligible
for the fund. 


If successful, we'll be able to support grant applications to help landowners improve their land - including developing natural solutions to flooding. Working together and using a 'landscape scale approach' means these grants can cover land under existing agri-environment and forestry/woodland agreements, common land and land not currently covered by a scheme.


We'll be able to directly help landowners to:

  • apply for Countryside Stewardship and other grants
  • access training to help you implement environmental proposals
  • join up with other landowners where appropriate and carry out work co-operatively
  • network with other landowners and relevant organisations

We need local landowners to register their interest as soon as they can - this is a time limited opportunity!



How do I sign up?
  • Go to the website at, add a pin to the map and leave your details
  • email your details to
  • or call the Mersey Forest office on 01925 816217



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On alert for tree health

28 February 2017

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Ash dieback
Monitoring tree health and protecting our trees, woods and forests from pests and diseases has become increasingly important.

This is because a number of exotic tree pests and diseases have entered the UK in recent decades, such as the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus which causes ash dieback and Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen known to cause sudden oak death.


Forestry Commission England's Tree Health Team is constantly battling the spread and impact of tree pests and diseases. We joined the team for a packed out event recently in Liverpool (pictured) looking at the current state of tree health and pests and some of the action being taken to reduce threats to trees. You can view all the presentations from the day. 

How to help keep trees healthy

We need people to learn more about tree diseases and the signs and symptoms. You can read about the main tree diseases and pests on the Forestry Commission website.

If you see trees that you suspect are diseased, you can report it to the Forestry Commission's Tree Health Team using the Tree Alert service

For general enquiries about tree health in relation to trees, woods and forests:


Photos: Betty Jones and Rebecca Brewer / Sarang


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Meeting Salford's remarkable anti-storm trees

07 February 2017

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Howard Street trees
Howard Street in Salford is an ordinary street of new build houses with some unusual trees – a 'living laboratory' of London Plane trees that are reducing storm water flows by up to 70%.

Last week the Mersey Forest Team accompanied officers from the Merseyside and Cheshire Mid-Mersey Flood Coast Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) and Mersey Forest Partnership to visit Howard Street and view the experimental trees. We're working on similar projects within our area and are keen to learn from the Salford experiment.


Pete Stringer from our friends at Manchester's City of Trees and Dr. James Rothwell, University of Manchester, explained how the trees are planted in a specially designed trench that aims to reduce levels of surface water and clean up pollution. The project aims to capture the impact that trees have on both cleaning polluted water from road run-off and managing levels of surface water, which can lead to flooding.


Using specialist equipment, Dr James Rothwell from The University of Manchester has been monitoring the quantity and quality of the road run-off as it enters and leaves the tree trench. The provisional results so far have shown:


  • 70% average storm peak reduction
  • 60% average water volume retention by the tree pit system
  • Up to 2 hours delay in storm waters leaving the system
  • Reduction in phosphates and some heavy metals

The project has been installed thanks to successful partnership collaboration between Manchester City of Trees, the Environment Agency, The University of Manchester, Deep Root, United Utilities, Urban Vision and Salford City Council. There's much more about the Howard Street trees on the City of Trees website.


As part of the Life+ Natural Course project we're working closely with colleagues at the City of Trees and the Rivers Trust to deliver three Urban Catchment Forestry demonstration sites that aim to show how trees and green infrastructure can be used to reduce urban flooding. A demonstration project is currently being developed with partners in St.Helens.


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Secretary of State learns about Forest School in St.Helens visit

31 January 2017

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Forest School Session - The Mersey Forest - small
Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, visited a St.Helens Primary School last week and got a lesson in Forest School from teachers, pupils and The Mersey Forest team.

Forest School offers a unique approach to teaching the curriculum and encouraging active play through using the natural environment. Studies have shown that children spend less time playing in nature than in the past – Forest School is one way of addressing that, increasing physical activity and boosting health and wellbeing as well as developing confidence and new skills. The sessions allow children to play, explore and learn about the natural environment and do activities like shelter-building, outdoor cooking, growing plants, using tools and bug-hunting.


During her visit to Sutton Manor Primary School Mrs. Leadsom met pupils from Years 3 - 6 and trainee Forest School leaders Helen Lomas and John Prescott at their weekly Forest School session, toasting on the fire and making log hedgehogs.


Sutton Manor Primary School has been funded by local company NGF Europe, a member of NSG Group. Employees have helped to prepare the woodland for Forest School, worked with the children to extend the school woodland and fund support for Forest School sessions. At recent planting days staff and every child in the school took part in planting over 500 saplings as well as 25 more mature trees – a long term commitment by the school to run Forest School in the grounds.


Just before Christmas, the school woodland saw its first mixed year group of Year 3- 6 children take part in six weeks of Forest School. The children selected to take part were those with identified additional needs such as looked after children, behavioural difficulties, attainment at a lower level than their peers. Children from KS1 are now participating in a six week forest school project and every class has had a taster session of Forest Schools before Christmas.


The work is part of a project by The Mersey Forest which aims to introduce 'Forest School' to urban areas where children often have limited access to green space.


Monica Gladman, Head Teacher said, 'The Forest School sessions have already positively impacted on the children, improving their confidence, and providing a calming environment for learning. The children have learnt to enjoy exploring the outdoors and have been responsible for leading their own learning, working co-operatively as a team and making decisions together. We aim for a forest School approach to be embedded into our curriculum.'



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Chester residents plant woodland and back new Charter

24 January 2017

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Tree Planting at the Countess - N4H flag landscape
200 people planted 2,000 trees on Sunday - creating a woodland that will benefit both wildlife and future generations of Chester residents. 

The community tree planting event took place at the Countess of Chester Country Park. The 2,000 native broadleaf trees included English Oak, Beech, Silver Birch, Hornbeam, Downy Birch, and Alder to encourage even more wildlife into the country park. 


Local residents also used the occasion to speak out on the importance of trees and woodlands, adding their voices to the call for a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. The new Charter - backed by 60 organisations and led by the Woodland Trust - aims to highlight the value of trees to all of us at a time when many are under threat from development, climate change, pests and more.


The event was supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, TCV, the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park, the Land Trust and The Mersey Forest. More planting events will be held on the site with local schools and Green Gym volunteers in the coming weeks.
Local ward member, Cllr Matt Bryan, who is a member of The Mersey Forest Steering Group, used his Members' budget to support the project. He commented: "It was a great turn out – well done to all involved!"


If you love the Countess of Chester Country Park and would like to be involved in its future, the next meeting of the Friends of Countess of Chester Country Park will be at The Little Owl on Tuesday 7th March at 7pm. 


There are regular events and activities at the park, including Green Gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am, health, buggy and Nordic walks throughout the week, and Chester parkrun every Saturday at 9am. For more information see our Nature4Health website.


And if you value the trees in your street or your park, if you walk or jog through local woodland, if you've seen your children benefit from contact with trees and nature, please add your voice to the Charter!

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