Trees and woodlands bring enormous benefits to people across Merseyside and North Cheshire – and now we need to hear your views and stories for a major new campaign.
We're standing with 60 organisations, led by the Woodland Trust, to call for a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. The Charter 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.
Through collecting stories about what trees and woods mean to people, we are building a picture of their value to everyone in the UK. These stories will be used to create a set of guiding principles, around which the charter will be written. The final Charter for Trees, Woods and People will influence policy and practice and celebrate the role that trees and woods play in our lives.
The new charter will launch on 6 November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the original mediaeval Charter of the Forest.
We're keen that the Charter reflects the voices of people who live within The Mersey Forest. If you live in a place that's seen transformation of derelict land through tree planting, tell your story about what that's meant to you. 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.
You'll be hearing a lot more from us about the Charter during 2017 and we hope you'll get involved.
St Vincent De Paul Primary is a school based right in the heart of the city which has little green space, but thanks to funding from supported by the Ernest Cook Trust and Smurfit Kappa Foundation their school grounds have been transformed.
The school was keen to develop a Forest School, so with help from The Mersey Forest Team, parents, children and staff a grassy area was planted with trees and logs brought in for seating. That was back in December 2015 and since then a member of staff has trained as a Forest School Leader. The pupils started their Forest School sessions in October 2016, and supported by Jo from the Mersey Forest team, but soon teacher Miss Bethel will be leading her own sessions and hopes to be a fully qualified leader by Summer 2017.
The Minister then continued with a walking meeting through the city's Business Improvement Districts where she discussed the current green infrastructure planning being delivered by the Mersey Forest with the BID Company's Andi Herring. This was followed by talks with Paul Nolan, Iain Taylor and Forestry Commission's Keith Jones around urban flood risk management and adapting to climate change.
The Mersey Forest Team developed the Liverpool Green Infrastructure Strategy in 2012 which led to significant investment in green infrastructure programmes from the health and transport sectors. Most recently the Strategy has been the basis for a successful £3.5m Horizon 2020 bid, led by the City Council with The Mersey Forest and University of Liverpool support. This funding will deliver a range of environmental improvements including increasing biodiversity, improving air quality and alleviating surface water issues. Work will include planting trees, introducing green walls and sustainable urban drainage systems, whilst enhancing pedestrian and cyclist routes in and out of the city.
As part of our Green Learning Environments project, we are researching non-formal learning in the natural environment, and are asking for help in identifying good and best practice.
There is increasing evidence of the importance of learning in the natural environment. Playing and learning in nature stimulates the imagination and enhances creativity. The positive impact of a green learning environment appears particularly important in children with special educational needs.
The Mersey Forest Team, Bluebell Park and Green Lane Schools along with partners and schools from Slovenia and Belgium are working to identify best practice from schools and other organisations. This is part of a project co-funded by the Erasmus + Programme.
We are particularly interested in approaches to non-formal learning in the natural environment for children and young people from 2 - 25 years old with special educational needs. The project is mainly focused on schools for children with special educational needs, but we know that there are many organisations who support or deliver programmes outside school.
We have created a simple questionnaire asking about your experiences of non-formal learning in the natural environment. This will only take a few minutes to complete.
The information will be used to help to shape and test a toolbox for teachers and educators. For each response received, we will plant a tree in The Mersey Forest. Moreover, responses are entered into a draw to win a voucher worth £50.
Saltscape is the unique salt-shaped landscape in mid-Cheshire along the River Weaver. This brand new walking trail takes you through six miles of beautiful scenery passing attractions such as the Anderton Boat Lift, the award-winning Lion Salt Works and Northwich Woodlands. View full details and map of the trail.
You can walk to point 16 on the Saltscape Trail map in less than 20 minutes from Northwich railway station. Alternatively, take a bus from Northwich bus interchange to the Swing Bridge, and walk from there to Anderton Boat Lift (point 1 on the map). Car parking is also available by the boat lift (details on the map download).
It was once a bleak colliery spoil tip, but over decades Colliers Moss near St.Helens has been transformed into a wildlife haven with lagoons, wetlands, woodlands and more. This year much work has been carried out to make the Moss a better place to visit, with overgrown paths cleared and heritage features rejuvenated.
The entrance to Colliers Moss on the south side is about 20 minutes walk from St Helens Junction railway station. Alternatively, take a 31 bus towards Derbyshire Hill from St Helens Bus Station and alight at Concourse Way, walking a few minutes down Moss Lane to the northern entrance.
For more ideas on walks and woodlands to visit, browse Discover the Mersey Forest
Each year England's Community Forests host a national conference to discuss the progress community forestry is making, identify issues and develop opportunities. Our 2017 conference will be held at the Birmingham Midland Institute on Thursday 23rd March.
We have lots to discuss: the loss of urban trees, addressing the need to reduce flood risk, health inequalities and adapt to climate change. Leaving Europe means that we are likely to have a very different system for forestry support: what might that look like? Our conference in 2017 focuses on how we can shape future policy for community forestry.
We have great speakers and the workshop will be lively as usual - maybe more so this year!
Once again, we are delighted that our conference chair will be Sir Harry Studholme, Forestry Commission Chairman.
Places are limited so please book early.Tickets are available at a cost of just under £25 (inc fees and VAT).
For further information and to book to attend please use this Eventbrite link. There is a small charge to help cover the costs of the event: