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Free tree planting support for schools across Cheshire and Merseyside

24 May 2024

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Pupils from St Pauls and St Timothys school in Liverpool helping with planting

Pupils from schools across Cheshire and Merseyside will have more access to nature thanks to tree planting projects funded through The Mersey Forest.  
The Mersey Forest is the area's Community Forest, bringing trees and people together to create healthy, inspiring resilient places for communities and nature to live, side by side. 
This year they have supported seven schools in the area to add 950 trees to their sites, with many pupils getting involved in the planting and learning more about the benefit of trees for both people and wildlife. 
The Mersey Forest team is now planning ahead for the next planting season and is asking schools interested in planting trees on their sites to get express an interest in receiving funding and support for their project. 
The Mersey Forest can support schools to incorporate trees or hedgerows on their school grounds, with woodland creation grants that cover up to 100% of the planting cost and 15 years support for the maintenance of the trees. The team's Community Forester will also be on hand to guide schools through the planning, funding and planting process, providing advice on species selection and ongoing maintenance. 
The offer is open to all schools across Merseyside and Cheshire, but the team are particularly looking to support schools that have low tree numbers or limited access to trees on their site.  
Dave Armson, Community Forester at The Mersey Forest, said: "Adding more green space to your school can create a fantastic outdoor learning space for your pupils to enjoy throughout the seasons. Research shows that learning outdoors helps to increase pupils' physical activity, reduce stress and anxiety and have a positive impact on student's behaviour. Any subject can incorporate the outdoors into their lessons, providing a versatile resource for teachers to use for years to come." 
Tom O'Keefe, Headteacher at Lindow Primary School in Wilmslow, said: "Working with Mersey Forest was such a fantastic experience for all of our children. The woodland space was carefully designed and trees were ordered. The highlight was the planting. Each child in school planted a tree in our new woodland area, creating their own piece of history here at Lindow. A memorable day for all involved. As the trees grow we plan to develop our use of the woodland area and outdoor classroom space by bringing curriculum lessons outside to enrich learning and enhancing out curriculum offer."

Get in touch 
Spaces are limited for this coming planting season, which runs from November through to March. Schools are encouraged to get in contact before Friday, 12 July 2024 to express an interest in planting with us. 

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Take part in Earth Hour 2024

21 March 2024

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Earth Hour logo
Every year, millions of people around the world come together, at 8.30pm local time on a Saturday in March, to observe Earth Hour, a symbolic event that highlights the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable living.

Since its creation in 2007, Earth Hour, which is organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has been known for its "lights off" moment. As landmarks and homes across the world switch off, supporters are also invited to symbolically switch off and 'Give an hour for Earth', spending 60 minutes doing something - anything - positive for our planet. In 2023, over 410,000 hours were given to our planet by supporters in 190 countries and territories, representing 90% of the planet, making it the Biggest Hour for Earth.

This year Earth Hour takes place on Saturday, 23 March and there are lots of great ideas of how you can get involved.

Ideas for taking part

As well as turning off non-essential lights at home WWF has developed the Hour Bank, a new online interactive tool, to help everyone, everywhere to find the most enjoyable ways to give an hour for Earth. Whether it is a mindful walk through the woods to bask in the smell of air, feel the earth, and take in the sounds or engaging in a home scavenger hunt to identify and swap out unsustainable products with eco-friendly alternatives, there are myriad options to choose from.

The Hour Bank provides a list of activities and events based on participants' lifestyle interests and preferences, from food and fitness to art and entertainment.

For inspiration visit the WWF Hour Bank.

Recommendations from The Mersey Forest Team

Take a walk in the woods – for inspiration local to home why not visit the things to do section of our website and discover walks and bike rides in our area.

Join a volunteering group – research volunteering or friends of groups in the area and schedule in some time to join your local group to give back to nature in your area. We have a list of local groups on our website.

Sign up for one of our Natural Health Service courses – Our courses for spring have just been published online and provide a range of options to help you boost your wellbeing in the surroundings of our beautiful parks, woodlands and greenspaces.

Find out more about trees and nature – spend time at home, learning more about nature by reading a book about trees or nature. Read our guide about nature based books. 

Donate to The Mersey Forest – help us to plant more trees, grow the Mersey Forest and help the local community by making a donation.

Playing our part every day

Whilst Earth Hour is a great event that shows global unity in the fight against climate change, it is important that we can continue this momentum to help protect the planet throughout the year. By incorporating eco-friendly actions into our daily lives, we can all contribute to building a more healthy and sustainable future for our planet. Whether it's reducing our energy use, taking part in conservation sessions, or planting a tree, every action, no matter how small, has the potential to make a difference.

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Free Natural Health Service courses available this spring

14 March 2024

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West Cheshire residents can benefit from a range of free nature-based activity courses to help boost their health and wellbeing this spring.

The 12-week courses are part of Cheshire's Natural Health Service, which is managed by The Mersey Forest  in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council. The service uses the natural environment to address local health inequalities and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in the area. 

There are four courses currently  taking  place across some of the borough's parks, green spaces, and woodlands. 

  • Healthy conservation – A fun outdoor session, taking part in the wonderful Whitby Park in Ellesmere Port. The sessions will help you improve your strength and stamina through nature-based conservation projects, boosting practical skills and confidence, increasing physical activity, Whilst connecting with others. 
  • Health walks - A safe and sociable place to take part in guided walks around Marbury Country Park in Northwich, which are tailored to individual needs and designed to gradually increase physical activity levels and share experiences. The sessions also include a creative element and offer the chance to produce imagery inspired by nature. 
  • Mindful contact with nature – Taking place in Helsby, Frodham and Northwich these sessions are focused on nature-based mindfulness practice and outdoor Tai Chi. This course is designed to help you build resilience from day-to-day triggers of stress and are also shown to increase capacity to self-manage long-term chronic conditions.  
  • Gardening for all - Gardening and food growing activities in a social setting at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port. The guided sessions encourage tailored levels of physical activity and focus on learning new skills and meeting new people.  

Many things that affect our health can't be treated by doctors or medicines alone. That is where initiatives such as the Natural Health Service come in, offering people alternatives which might be suggested to you through social prescribing.  
A national Social Prescribing Day takes place every year on the 14th of March, highlighting how it works and how it can change lives.  Social prescribing connects people to non-medical support to address their needs - it may be health conditions, loneliness, debt, or stress.

To speak to a social prescribing organisation in your area, simply contact your GP who can put you in touch with a local link worker.  Research shows that access to and use of green spaces, whether in our towns, cities or villages or further afield, provides mental health benefits, including restoration from stress, reduced psychological distress and decreased depression and anxiety. Green social prescribing, such as that offered through the Natural Health Service, is a great example of this. 

Gareth Howatson, Co-ordinator for the Natural Health Service, explains: "Through our Natural Health Service we've been able to connect with so many amazing members of the public who have taken part in our activities. By holding these activities outdoors, in the safe spaces that nature provide, many people feel comfortable to share experiences with one another which is hugely beneficial.   
"As humans, we all experience what feel like our own challenges in life, and we often forget that other people are also facing challenges of their own. Our programmes remind us of this and provide comfort in knowing we aren't facing our challenges alone". 

One participant who has previously accessed the course said "I feel I've benefited hugely from these sessions. I came to them as a result of feeling very stressed and anxious due to a recent family trauma. I wasn't sleeping and was breaking down all the time. I couldn't see a way forward. In parallel to attending a therapist, this course has helped me feel calmer, more focused, sleep better and have coping strategies when I hit tough times in the future". 

A full list of upcoming Natural Health Service courses can be found below. To find out more about how to access the Natural Health Service courses please email: or call: 01925 816217. All sessions are free of charge to access. 

Gardening For All at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port  – Thursdays 10.30am – 2.30pm, from 14 April to 13 June 2024.

Mindful Contact in Nature at Helsby Community Centre, Mondays 11am – 1pm or 1.30pm – 3.30pm, from 18 March to 3 June 2024.

Healthy Conservation at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port, Tuesdays 10am – 12.30pm  from 2 April to 18 June 2024.

Mindful Contact in Nature at Castle Park, Frodsham, Thursdays 10am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm from 4 April – 30 May 2024

Health Walks at Marbury Country Park, Northwich, Tuesdays 1.30pm – 3pm from 16 April to 9 July 2024.

Health Walks at Marbury Country Park, Northwich, Fridays 10.30am – 12.30pm from 19 April 2024 to 12 July 2024. 

Mindful Contact in Nature at Castle Park, Frodsham, Thursdays 10am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm from 6 June to 25 July 2024. 

Mindful Contact in Nature at Helsby Community Centre, Mondays 11am – 1pm or 1.30pm –  3.30pm from 10 June - 29 July 2024. 

Mindful Contact in Nature at Vickersway Park, Northwich, Wednesdays 10.30am – 11.30am from 5 June  – 24 July 2024. 

Gardening for All at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port, Wednesdays 10.30am – 2.30pm from 5 May  – 21 August 2024. 

Gardening for All at Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port, Thursdays 10.30am – 2.30pm from 20 June – 5 September 2024.  




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Local community join together to plant new woodland on Cheshire farm

08 March 2024

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Volunteers, including residents and a local cubs and beaver group, have been helping to plant several sections of new woodland on a farm near Malpas, Cheshire.

The community planting event at Lower Moss Farm near Malpas was organised by farming advisors Elm Associates and The Mersey Forest, who have supported the landowner to plant over 6,000 trees on the site.

Jane Atkinson, Farm Conservation Advisor at Elm Associates, said: "The tree planting on this site is part of a wider conservation plan for the farm. It has been designed to link together semi ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, connecting habitats and creating wildlife corridors, as well as protect the farmland from soil erosion.

The turn out from the local community was fantastic. They all worked really hard to get the trees in the ground which will continue to benefit the local area for years to come."

The project has been funded through The Mersey Forest's Trees for Climate programme, part of the government-led Nature for Climate Fund which supports England's Tree Action Plan.

The programme can fund up to 100% of tree planting costs, plus 15 years maintenance payments. The Mersey Forest's experienced woodland advisors can provide landowners with as much support as they need throughout the planning, funding and planting process.

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said: "As the areas local Community Forest it is great to be involved in projects such as this, where the community are helping to create a woodland that will not only benefit the farm but also the local wildlife and surround area.
"Getting out in nature benefits us all and trees can play a major role in boosting the health and wellbeing of our neighbourhoods, as well as helping areas adapt to a changing climate."

Biodegradable tree guards have been used at this site to protect the growing trees from damage by browsing wildlife, providing them with the best chance to establish into a thriving woodland.

All trees planted in Cheshire and Merseyside are helping to grow The Mersey Forest and the larger Northern Forest, which stretches from Liverpool to the Yorkshire coast.

Landowners who are interested in transforming their land with trees, whether they have a small pocket of unused land or several hectares of non-productive farmland, are encouraged to get in touch with The Mersey Forest ahead of next year's planting season (October to March).
Visit: for more information and to complete an enquiry form or call: 01925 816217.

For more information about Elm Associates visit:

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The Mersey Forest joins in with Lunar New Year celebrations

01 February 2024

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The Mersey Forest are excited to be involved in this year's Lunar New Year celebrations in Liverpool.
Taking place from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 February, local immersive experts Focal Studios will be dazzling audiences with the story of 'The Boy and the Pearl' over 3 spectacular nights of projections. The projection show, lasting 10 mins, will be played on repeat at The Bombed Out Church between 5.30pm-9pm each night.

The grounds of the church will be brought to life with a stunning audio-visual art installation developed by Focal Studios and The Bombed Out Church's community engagement team. Inspired by traditional Chinese folklore, the story of 'The Boy and The Pearl' has been developed in collaboration with Pagoda arts, the Bombed Out Church and local artists. 

Acting as the centre piece for the garden, a 7ft high driftwood dragon sculpture depicting the wood dragon will be crafted by local artist Judith Herring using pieces of up-cycled wood and driftwood. Reflecting the city's wider Lunar New Year narrative, the dragon will possess a large, enchanting pearl, illuminated from within.
Building on the success of the Zhezhi Rabbit display for Lunar New Year 2023 and staying true to their commitment to harness creativity for positive change, Focal Studios are collaborating with over 30 local schools and community members for 2024. Together, they will create a surge of shimmering leaves to encircle the dragon sculpture, serving as the focal point of this enchanting installation.
The Mersey Forest will be part of the celebrations at St Luke's Bombed Out Church during the daytime. 
Friday: 3pm - 5pm, Saturday: 12pm - 5pm, Sunday 11am - 5pm.
  • Each day The Mersey Forest will be giving away 500 small trees for people to plant at home. This is a great way for people to play their part in helping to grow the Mersey Forest and will be a reminder of their weekend celebrating the Chinese New Year.
  • There will be a Tree of Hope to capture peoples' thoughts and views on trees and woodlands in their community and where they'd like to see more. This information will feed into The Mersey Forest's Plan, a strategic guide to the work they do with partners across Cheshire and Merseyside.
  • The Mersey Forest team will also be sharing the benefits of their Natural Health Service, which harnesses the power of the natural environment to improve both mental and physical health. The service offers activities such as health walks, mindful contact with nature sessions, horticulture therapy and practical conservation sessions.

Find out more about the Lunar New Year Celebrations

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