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Two decades of woodland volunteering celebrated in Northwich

03 July 2019

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Dragonfly Pond low res Jun 19
Our longest-standing 'Friends Of' group, the Friends of Anderton and Marbury have reached a major milestone with a project celebrating dragonflies. 
More than 60 people turned out in the sunshine to celebrate the completion of the improvements to the dragonfly pond at Northwich's Anderton Nature Park – a new all-access viewing platform and interpretation panel. 

It's the latest project underaken by the Friends of Anderton & Marbury (FoAM) – a group of volunteers which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary! The first trees planted as part of The Mersey Forest 25 years ago were at Anderton Nature Park so we've seen how the area has been transformed thanks to the hard work of volunteers and our partners.

The viewing platform has been designed and constructed by members of the group, and FoAM has produced a leaflet to help identify some of the species visitors might see.

The project was part-funded by chemical company INOVYN through the landfill communities fund with the grant process managed by The Mersey Forest. Other funding came from local councillors' ward budgets.

The new facility was declared open by Jon Whieldon of INOVYN. Jon was particularly impressed by the range of skills of the volunteers who had built the platform and produced the interpretation panel and leaflet. He said, "The funds which INOVYN were able to provide went so much further because of this volunteer input".

Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said, "It was a wonderful achievement made possible by grants from INOVYN and Ward Councillors Members Budgets and the fantastic work of Alan and team of volunteers and Dave James, one of our brilliant Rangers".

FoAM is just one of many Friends groups that are supported by The Mersey Forest. These groups make a huge difference to the success of our local woodlands and they always need new people to get involved. Not one for your local woodland? We're always interested in hearing from people who want to start new groups!

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Forest bathing comes to Liverpool city centre

28 June 2019

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forest pod launch
'Forest bathing pod' brings an oasis of calm to the city for Urban GreenUP and our 25th anniversary.

Trees came temporarily to Liverpool's Williamson Square this week in the shape of an innovative 'forest bathing pod' – and passers-by loved the experience of a greener city.

The two day PopUP Forest was officially opened by the government's Tree Champion Sir William Worsley. It was designed by Liverpool based BCA Landscape and is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Urban GreenUP project to promote the value of nature.

Visitors to the square loved the pod:
Urban GreenUP is a five-year programme that will research the value of planting trees, creating green walls and habitats for pollinators. The programme is part of an international collaboration led by Cartif in Spain, with Liverpool City Council leading the local partnership with the University of Liverpool and The Mersey Forest, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019.
The Pop Up Forest comes just a month before Liverpool City Council holds a special debate on the climate emergency issue and in the same week the authority began building a new bus hub layover facility to help cut an estimated 900,000 km of journeys out of the city centre - and 2,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, every year.
Councillor James Noakes, Liverpool City Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways, said: "The Urban GreenUP project is showing the value and benefit of greening our city centre and improving the city's air quality. This PopUP Forest is an ideal opportunity to stimulate the conversation about how Williamson Square can be reinvigorated and also how we green our cities to improve the health of our citizens and make us resilient to climate change too."
Clare Olver of Mersey Forest, explained: "We are trying to recreate the tranquillity of a forest for the busy urban environment" explains, "Each day it seems that there are more reports and studies to show how being close to nature and being in trees and woodlands in particular is good for own wellbeing. This is a chance to immerse in a forest, in the busy city centre for 5 minutes, take a breath and gather thoughts for the day ahead."
Bill Addy, CEO at the Liverpool BID Company, which has been involved with Urban GreenUP from the start, added: "Our businesses recognise the value of a green city and it is part of our business plan. The health impacts are perhaps less well known, but many of us know that we feel better in green spaces. The PopUP Forest gives us a glimpse of what might be possible."
BCA Landscape Director Andy Thomson commented, "We have taken our inspiration from the Japanese Forest Bathing ideas. We all enjoy the bustle of the city, but now and again we need the opportunity to recharge and find inspiration. The PopUP Forest reminds us that being in nature is good for us on many levels."
Sir William Worsley has the task of helping to increase woodland and tree planting across England to reach the 11m tree target by 2022. He praised the work of The Mersey Forest, calling the partnership "one of the leading community forests."
Sir William, who also toured a new urban garden at the Royal Court Theatre on his visit to Liverpool, said: "This PopUP Forest is a great and innovative idea. We know the health value of trees and we value the creativity and energy of cities like Liverpool. More trees in and around our towns and cities is a good investment for people, wildlife and a sustainable economy."

The Mersey Forest @ 25

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Celebrating 25 years of The Mersey Forest

26 June 2019

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Celebrating 25 Years of The Mersey Forest
2019 marks 25 years since the Plan for the Mersey Forest was approved by government.

The Plan set out a long-term vision to transform Merseyside and North Cheshire through planting trees and encouraging communities to use these new woodlands on their doorstep.

When we began, the area was still recovering from the recessions and industrial decline of the 1980s. Whilst obviously not a panacea, the aims of the Mersey Forest Partnership were to reclaim derelict sites, create a well-wooded landscape and provide opportunities for people to have a say and play a part in improving their neighbourhood. Much of the large-scale derelict land is now community woodland, providing new areas of open access for hundreds of thousands of people.

Looking back at the past 25 years, and where we are today, a lot has been achieved by the Partnership, community groups and the Forest Team – but there is still lots to do.

There are too many highlights to mention, but here's some that we are most proud of:
  • We have planted over 9 million trees
  • We have achieved three times more tree planting than the England average
  • We have created over 3,000 hectares of woodland – that's the same as 4,322 full-sized football pitches, or 24,000 Olympic swimming pools
  • We've worked with more than half the schools in Merseyside and North Cheshire
  • 65% of people say their environment has improved because of our work
  • The 9 million trees we have planted have absorbed 524,574 tonnes of carbon dioxide – a clear impact on climate change
And the Partnership has somehow managed to navigate the changes to local and national structures. Over 25 years there has been nine governments and five prime ministers!

We've chosen today to unveil our 25-year anniversary campaign to coincide with a visit from Sir William Worsley, the UK's Tree Champion, appointed by government.

Sir William's visit gives us an opportunity to showcase some of the work in The Mersey Forest and the plans for significant tree planting in Liverpool city centre over the next year and our new, innovative, "pop up" forest!

Our 25 year anniversary campaign will run throughout the rest of 2019. The campaign will focus on raising awareness of the new woodlands on people's doorsteps – providing ways that people can visit and enjoy these spaces with their family over the coming summer months, and as the trees turn to autumn.

We will be encouraging people to go and find the 95 species of trees that we've planted, with an A-Z of trees that families can enjoy.

Looking to the future, our aims are as relevant today as they were 25 years ago. Over 25 years we have shown how The Mersey Forest can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, can transform neglected areas, can bring people together and can help to tackle climate change. These are still pressing concerns, that we as a society will have to deal with.

I'd like to finish thanking every single person who has volunteered time to help us plant, in every weather – and going home with muddy wellies and cold hands. And to thank every partner organisation that has been involved – together we have created wonderful spaces that we can see everyday and which will benefit local communities for generations to come.

Please join us as we look to the next 25 years,

Paul Nolan OBE

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Teamwork brings 500 new trees to the Countess of Chester Country Park

05 April 2019

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The Howard families from Blackburn
A third annual planting day continued the rapid growth in new woodland at Countess of Chester Park – benefiting future generations and helping to combat climate change.

Nearly 200 eager volunteers turned out to help on the planting day, planting over 500 native broadleaf trees, taking the total of new trees at the park to well over 3000. These include oak, alder, silver birch, hornbeam, hazel, maple, crab apple and wild cherry – species which will also encourage more wildlife into the site.

As with previous tree planting events at the park, the initiative has been made possible by a partnership between the Land Trust who own the park, TCV Merseyside who manage the park, the Friends of the Park Group, The Mersey Forest, Upton councillor Matt Bryan, Cheshire West and Chester Council and OVO Energy who provide the trees.

Clare Olver from The Mersey Forest said,

We always look forward to this planting event. It's a fantastic example of the benefits of partnership working and testament to the huge value of volunteering your time. So many people and organisations have worked together to make this day such a success. We're always delighted by just how many members of the public turn up on the day, roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to help with planting. With climate change taking such a high profile at the moment it's important to remember just what a difference planting trees can make in tackling this global issue.

The event proved that many people are now realising the importance of green spaces for a whole range of reasons including tackling pollution, improving biodiversity and mental health. Some even showed great commitment to the cause, travelling fifty miles to this event. The Howard family travelled all the way from Blackburn to take part and said, "We feel it is really important to teach our children how important it is to look after our green spaces and we wanted them to get hands-on experience of planting trees."

The trees will help to form part of the Northern Forest, a plan launched by the Woodland Trust and England's Community Forests (including Mersey Forest) last year. The ambitious 25 year plan will see 50 million trees planted along the M62 corridor.

By the end of March 2019, nearly 600,000 trees will have been planted across a range of locations from existing woodland sites and ex farmland, to schools and community grounds.

If you love the Countess of Chester Country Park and would like to be involved in its future, contact the Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park at or call Sarah Palgrave-Neath at 01925 852005 for more information.

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Every season outdoors with our new free schools pack

25 March 2019

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Cover of Trees for Learning: Every Season Outdoors
Announcing our fabulous new free resource for schools: 'Trees for Learning, Every Season Outdoors'.

Children and young people like the inspirational Greta Thunberg are increasingly taking the lead in campaigning for action on climate change. We're encouraging schools to harness this wave of enthusiasm for the environment by engaging children with outdoor learning.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has urged countries to plant trees in their billions. England's Community Forests are together responding to that need locally. Trees for Learning is part of Defra's plan to plant a million trees with primary schools by 2020. We've already planted over 100,000 trees with schools and now we want other schools to share in some of the activities we've developed along the way.

The 55 page booklet designed for EYFS, KS1 and KS2 is packed full of tried and tested practical and creative ideas to get children out of the classroom and into the natural environment.

It's user-friendly, beautifully illustrated and designed to link with the curriculum. And it's completely free to download, for schools and parents.

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