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News

Hundreds of volunteers turn out to create a haven for wildlife in Bebbington

17 June 2022

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Volunteers on planting day at Poulton Recreation Ground
A woodland of more than 2,700 trees has been created at a popular recreation ground on the Wirral thanks to an army of local volunteers.

A community planting event was held in March 2022, to help plant the trees on the 1.8 hectare site.

Over 200 people turned out on the day, helping to plant a mixture of native broadleaf trees, such as oak, beech, sweet chestnut and crab apple.The woodlands have been planned to complement the existing woodland types found on the Wirral, providing wildlife that is native to the area with new habitat as the trees become established.

The Mersey Forest's Woodland Advisor worked closely with Wirral Council's Landscape Manager to design the new woodland, with glades and footpaths for recreation, through and around the new woodland. Trees have also been set back at least 30 metres from neighbouring houses. 

This planting has been funded by the Trees for Climate programme and is part of Wirral Council's Hedgerow and Woodland Strategy which sets out how the Council will plant and grow over 210,000 trees by 2030, doubling Wirral's tree canopy.

The Council team also run regular action days, encouraging the local community to get out in nature and help look after and maintain the newly planted trees, to help them thrive. 

Visit Wirral Council's website for more details.

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Partnership working supports large-scale tree planting at Cheshire East site

15 June 2022

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Cllr Quentin Abel, Will Marshall from Mersey Forest and Mark West from Green Task Force
The Mersey Forest has been working closely with Cheshire East Council during this planting season to create more woodlands across the borough, including on council owned land.

One of the largest single-site tree planting schemes delivered was on ex-farmland, owned by the council, in Crewe, Cheshire.

The Mersey Forest's woodland advisor worked closely with Cheshire East Council's planning  and archaeology departments to design a mixed broadleaf woodland that would complement the existing landscape.

The site has also recently secured planning permission to install a large-scale solar farm and the design of the woodland has taken account of this.

The woodland will be a long-term carbon store and is one way that Cheshire East is aiming to offset some of the emissions generated through service delivery, helping the council to meet its target of being carbon neutral by 2025.

Councillor Quentin Abel, Cheshire East Council's environment and climate change champion, said: "Working with partners enables us to take a joined-up approach to tackling the climate emergency, meaning we can draw on a wide range of existing knowledge and expertise to deliver on both our carbon neutral ambitions and the objectives set out in our environment strategy.

"Projects such as the one at Leighton Grange, with support from The Mersey Forest and the Green Task Force, means we are able to create high-quality woodland that offsets our emissions, as well as providing a range of other benefits to the natural environment, including engaging with and supporting community development."

8,147 trees were planted in total on this 7 hectare site, made up of mixed broadleaf species including oak, silver birch, field maple, and Scots pine, complementing the existing trees in the local area.

The planting was completed by the Green Task Force, a charity that uses nature-based activities to provide positive pathways for veterans through recovery, training and employment. The Green Task Force are supported by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

View the Youtube video at the top of the page to find out more about this site and see the team in action on one of the planting day.

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Music and tree planting combine to share sustainability message

25 May 2022

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Singing and tree planting at Wild Rumpus site
The Mersey Forest has recently had the pleasure of working with Wild Rumpus, a not-for-profit arts organisation producing large-scale events and festivals. The team has supported the organisation to plant trees on their site, based at Rode Hall in Cheshire East, during the 2021/22 planting season.
This tree planting was no normal affair though, as volunteers and performers from The Promise Opera team worked alongside each other to both plant the trees and sing together in the beautiful surroundings of the Rode Hall estate. Our woodland advisor, Dave, even joined in!

The project came about as Wild Rumpus are working closely with the team who are developing 'The Promise', a new outdoor opera for families which will be performed at locations across the country next year.

The Promise is a much-loved children's story, about a young girl surviving in a hard city, where nothing grows and no one ever smiles. One night, she meets a woman and makes her a strange promise – one that involves her planting an acorn. Slowly colour, warmth and music return to the world, a forest grows and a community is forged.

Hayley, Partnership Manager for Wild Rumpus, said: "Connection to nature is at the heart of all our work at Wild Rumpus. We were thrilled to be able to partner with both The Mersey Forest and The Promise Opera team to plant trees and grow the existing woodland area of our site.  

"Not only will the trees enhance biodiversity and be appreciated by the many organisations and individuals who use the site for project development and performance, but it was an opportunity to learn about the planting process and help develop The Promise Opera's wonderful plans for community planting events and collaborations across the country."

 

Connecting people with nature

The Promise story is really in keeping with the values of England's Community Forests - connecting people in some of the country's most deprived communities with nature, by planting woodlands in and around our towns and cities.

We've seen first-hand, the benefits this brings for people's wellbeing, connecting communities and bringing a whole host of learning opportunities for families and neighbourhoods, as well as supporting wildlife and the local environment.

This project was funded by the national Trees for Climate programme, part of the Government-led Nature for Climate Fund.
In total 52 trees were planted across the site with 20 volunteers helping on the day.

Find out more about The Promise Opera and Wild Rumpus.
 

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The Mersey Forest and local veterans join forces to create more woodlands across Merseyside and Cheshire

08 April 2022

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Members of the Green Task Force with Mersey Forest and National Trust staff
A group of veterans, known as the Green Task Force, is working alongside The Mersey Forest team to help increase woodland across Merseyside and Cheshire.

The Green Task Force, which is made up of a team of veterans from across the North West, focuses on providing positive pathways through either recovery, training and employment.

Currently, a team of nine is helping to support the work of The Mersey Forest, the area's local Community Forest, who have been creating woodlands in and around the area's towns and cities for the last 30 years.
 
Recently, the taskforce supported The Mersey Forest and Dunham Massey National Trust (NT) to plant a 1,150 metre hedgerow, incorporating around 5,750 trees and shrubs on Stamford Farm on the NT estate.
 
The new woodlands and hedgerows will help to capture carbon and create thriving species rich green corridors, better connecting existing wildlife habitats.
 
The ethics and ethos of the Green Task Force, developed from their time in the military, means they are well suited to this type of work and are gaining new skills and valuable experience in the growing forestry sector, supporting their future job prospects.
 
The Mersey Forest understands how connecting people with nature can really benefit people's health and wellbeing and regularly organises activities, through Cheshire Natural Health Service, to use the area's green space to support people's health.
For the Green Task Force, working outside, alongside follow veterans, helps their wellbeing and provides a social setting where members are able to share their experiences, both good and bad, with others who understand their background.
 
Mark West, Operations Manager at Green Task Force, said: "This partnership is extremely exciting for our veteran community. With more than one in six serving and former service personnel who have seen combat suffering some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it is giving us the opportunity to both socialise and work together once again, in an environment we all feel familiar with. Working outdoors offers an additional sense of belonging and comfort to all, learning new skills to channel our focus and energy to complement our existing drive and strong work ethics along the way."
 
Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said: "Having the Green Taskforce work alongside us during this planting season has been invaluable. We are tasked with planting over a hundred hectares across Cheshire and Merseyside this year, and the team has worked alongside our woodland advisors to support us in this push to get the right trees in the right place across the area. We hope the valuable skills that they are learning on the job will help them to secure employment within the forestry or environmental sectors in the future."
 
The planting scheme at Stamford Farm is one of hundreds of sites across the area that are being planted as part of the national Trees for Climate programme, a multi-million-pound woodland creation project, part of the Government-led Nature for Climate Fund.

The Green Taskforce is part funded by The Green Recovery Challenge Fund, a project that will kick start a Green Recovery across Cheshire and Merseyside, boosting nature recovery and connecting people to nature. The project is supporting the establishment of the Operations Manager and Operations Coordinator for Green Task Force and the recruitment of 30 trainees, to bring veterans into the green economy.
 

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Open Eye Gallery’s LOOK Climate Lab 2022 – Liverpool Food Growing Network

22 March 2022

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Mindfulness with nature afternoon meditation session
Project Support Officer, Rhianna Weston, from the Mersey Forest attended the LOOK Climate Lab 2022 event at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool with one of our Nature4Health project partners, Faiths4Change. The event was held over a number of weeks, with the week that Rhianna attended focusing on self-sufficient food growing. Rhianna shared her experience with us:

Crystal from Faiths4Change, a local environmental charity working with communities to co-create climate change and resilience projects, ran a taster-session of our Gardening4All activities on the day I attended the gallery; one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Each session began with a short group meditation to help everyone relax and reconnect with their own mind and self.

At both sessions, people really enjoyed the meditation, myself included. I, like many, had never tried any sort of meditation before, and I was surprised to find how peaceful it made me feel in such a short space of time.

Myself and Crystal asked others how it made them feel:
One participant said: "At least 50 people must have walked past, and yet I didn't feel disturbed or embarrassed. I kept my eyes closed and stayed relaxed".

Another told me they'd continue to use meditation in their everyday life as they enjoyed it so much. They could already feel how beneficial it was and how it allowed them to take back control.

Crystal often integrates this group meditation into the Nature4Health sessions held at St. Michael's in-the-City, located on Upper-Pitt Street in Liverpool. These take place every Tuesday afternoon between 1 – 3pm. Sessions are completely free and require no experience – they're a great way to meet new people from a range of backgrounds and learn new skills. Many participants have lived through some vulnerable and challenging situations, yet these sessions help them to gain back confidence, peace and reduce any loneliness.

All of our Nature4Health sessions run over a 12-week period, so if you'd like to join the next one or any of our other activities at a different location, please email Elizabeth or myself at Elizabeth.Mason@merseyforest.org.uk or Rhianna.Weston@merseyforest.org

Following the meditation, the group and I took part in planting some herbs. We chose between basil, coriander and parsley, each suitable to grow indoors on windowsills. Most of the people who joined in the session said they live in apartments or houses with only small patios, and really wanted  to learn about the types of fruits, vegetables and herbs they can grow in the limited amount of space they had.

Crystal and I then took part in the next activity which was led by Rachel, from Croxteth Community Garden. Rachel taught the group numerous tips and tricks, from growing your own pea shoots from dried peas, to separating shop-bought herbs to get more for your money!

Both Rachel's and Crystal's sessions showed the participants how to be more self-sufficient in an enjoyable, affordable, and sustainable way. Everyone really seemed to enjoy the day, with the event supporting individuals to become more connected with nature and themselves, with the most basic of materials.

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