Community woodlands across the borough have seen major improvements during the autumn and winter of 2011/2012 for the benefit of people and wildlife, thanks to high levels of grant funding secured by grassroots groups working with Knowsley Council, The Mersey Forest and other partners.
Nine community woodlands - Halewood Park, Little Wood (Stockbridge Village), Ten Acre Pits (Huyton), New Hutte Woods (Halewood), Acornfield Plantation (Kirkby), Woolfall Heath Meadow (Huyton), Court Farm Woods (Halewood), Stadt Moers Park (Huyton/Whiston) and the woodland creation site in Northwood (Kirkby) - have each secured £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund 'Community Spaces Fund' towards a range of improvements. A further £40,000 was secured through the Big Lottery Fund 'Awards for All' scheme for Finch Woods and New Hutte Woods (Halewood), Millbrook Park Millennium Green (Kirkby) and The Sanctuary (Knowsley Village).
These grant successes have given the green light for even more money to be secured. Little Wood, Court Farm Woods, Ten Acre Pits, Woolfall Heath Meadow, Halewood Park and Stadt Moers Park additionally secured funding collectively totalling over £100,000 from the Cory Environmental Trust. The Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme has provided match funding of £160,000 to the above grants through the support of The Mersey Forest, which in some cases has provided an additional sum of over £30,000 per site.
This funding has brought about a major revival of Knowsley's community woodlands for the benefit of the public, but also for local wildlife and biodiversity. Investment has focused on new entrances, path works, signage and interpretation information, bins and benches as well as natural play features, sculptures, fishing pegs, dipping and viewing platforms. Habitat restoration works on the woodlands, ponds, wetlands, meadowlands and other habitats that exists within the woods have also been a key focus, which local wildlife has already responded to with an identifiable increase in biodiversity within the sites.
In addition to restoring and reviving our existing community woodland sites, three tree planting and woodland creation projects were delivered in Knowsley with the support of The Mersey Forest, Forestry Commission and The Big Tree Plant. The largest scheme was the Northwood woodland creation project, which delivered over a hectare of tree planting with support from over 100 local school pupils and 80 Northwood residents (read more about Northwood). Additionally, a further hectare's worth of tree planting was carried out across two parkland sites, Eaton Street Park (Prescot) and The Pasture (Cronton) to complement meadowland creation projects that were delivered on these sites through Awards for All funding and with support from The Mersey Forest and Landlife.
These funding successes have been the result of the co-ordinated efforts of a wide range of organisations from across the community. This includes local community groups (Northwood Community Allotments, Leather's Lane & Wood Road Residents Association; North Huyton Neighbourhood Network), schools (Highfield School), Parish/Town Councils (Knowsley Parish, Halewood Town and Cronton Parish) and Friends groups (Friends of Ten Acre Pits, Little Woods of Stockbridge Association, Halewood Park Volunteers, Court Farm Woods Association, Millbrook Park Millennium Green Trust, Friends of Acornfield Plantation, Friends of Eaton Street Park), with the support of Knowsley MBC Green Spaces Team, The Mersey Forest and 2020 Knowsley, who have worked tirelessly together to make full use of the funding schemes currently available to local green spaces.
The above fundraising, partnership working and community engagement has proved hugely successful in placing a new focus on the community woodlands and natural green spaces that exist within Knowsley. It is fully intended for this work to continue and similar investment will be secured to continue improvement of these sites, as well as to restore other Knowsley sites in need of revival. This will help to bring about a new level of appreciation, ownership and support for The Mersey Forest within Knowsley. If you would like to get involved in supporting the development of your local community woodland or green space in Knowsley, contact The Mersey Forest Team or Philip Hurst at Knowsley Council (0151 443 2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org).