The first winter of the Big Tree Plant campaign has been a huge success in The Mersey Forest, with more than 17,600 trees planted with local communities in Merseyside and North Cheshire – outstripping our original target for the season by more than 2,000 trees.
The Big Tree Plant has set aside £255,000 over four years for The Mersey Forest to plant trees and create mini-woodlands to brighten our neighbourhoods – and this first planting season, from November 2011 to March 2012, has seen 68 projects reap the benefits, including school grounds, hospitals and community centres.
Examples of some of the success stories in each local authority include:
Volunteers from Marston's Lion Salt Works and wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation dug in at a tree planting morning to help complete the Salt Works' newly created butterfly garden. New street trees were planted in Ellesmere Port, and sites ranging from Countess of Chester Hospital to Dane Valley Community Orchard to Winsford Fire and Rescue all received new trees.
Sandymoor Parish Council received more than 50 large trees, with other beneficiaries including sites ranging from Widnes Tennis Centre to Hanover Court to the RSPCA Animal First Aid Clinic on Windmill Street in Runcorn.
At Northwood in Knowsley, pupils from Northwood Community Primary School planted saplings to enhance the site's woodland area, where they will soon be able to enjoy "Forest School" lessons in the great outdoors. Eaton Street Park, Halewood Triangle and Kirkby Surestart were among other projects to also receive trees.
Liverpool school children teamed up with community organisation Growing Granby and The Mersey Forest to plant the first trees of a neighbourhood orchard. Liverpool Women's Hospital, Mossley Hill Church and St Francis of Assisi Academy also benefited from new trees thanks to The Big Tree Plant.
Parents and pupils from Norwood Primary enjoyed a tree planting day for all the family to further improve the school's woodland areas. Other schools to benefit included Bishop David Shepherd Primary School in Southport and Hudson Primary School in Maghull. Seaforth has also benefited from 80 new street trees.
Pupils from Haydock English Martyrs Catholic Primary School helped plant a brand new woodland in their school grounds, with trees also provided to Kentmere Allotments, Ashurst Primary School, Legh Vale Primary School and King George V playing fields.
Many of the projects were co-funded by The Woodland Trust through their MOREwoods project.
The Mersey Forest is already starting to plan for next winter's Big Tree Plant year 2, so if you are involved with a site or community group in Merseyside or North Cheshire that could benefit from trees, please get in touch.
Big Tree Plant complements the work of ForeStClim – an EU-funded environmental project that looks at forests and climate change across North West Europe. The majority of Big Tree Plant planting schemes focus on urban areas of high deprivation, which are lacking in green space and are therefore most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.