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News

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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Working with local landowners to create riparian woodlands

26 January 2024

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River Bollin

The Mersey Forest has recently launched a Riparian Woodland Creation Project, which aims to help reduce flood risk and improve water quality by increasing tree cover along the watercourses of Cheshire and Merseyside.
 

This is a new, grant funded opportunity, which will cover up to 100% of the costs of implementation and ongoing management for 15 years, leaving a lasting legacy on your land and making a positive contribution to the local community.  

Experienced advisors from our team will support landowners to develop their scheme free of charge and, as we're a locally based organisation, we will visit the proposed site to ensure a planting scheme is designed that works for the land and the landowner. 
The project aims to transform the banks of our waterways into flourishing havens of biodiversity, while helping to reduce flood risk, improving water quality and enhancing the resilience of your land.  

We're keen to work with landowners on this project, creating woodland that can work alongside productive agricultural land. Landowners can access our Trees for Climate or Grow Back Greener grant schemes which can cover up to 100% of woodland creation costs. We can also look at other Natural Flood Management (NFM) options such as leaky dams which have been highly effective in other areas of the Mersey Forest and elsewhere in the country. 

Why create riparian woodland? 

  • Reduced soil erosion. Riparian woodland slows the flow of runoff before reaching a watercourse, allowing sediment to settle, and holding valuable soil on your land, instead of it washing away downstream. Ditches also take longer to silt up, so management is reduced. 

  • Livestock benefits. Trees can provide valuable shelter for livestock during winter and shade during summer and help to reduce livestock contact with waterborne diseases. Additionally, where footpaths run alongside watercourses, fenced off riparian buffer strip can separate people and dogs from your fields, reducing the risk of livestock worrying.  

  • Bank erosion. If you are losing parts of a field due to bank erosion, strategically planting riparian woodland along these sections will help to stabilise the riverbank through the tree's root structures. 

  • Countryside Stewardship. Maintenance payments are often available for land on which woodland is planted and NFM interventions are installed. ​​

  • Improve water quality. Riparian woodland helps to filter runoff and reduce the effects of spray drift, reducing loss of fertilisers, pesticides and sediment into watercourses and helping you meet the farming rules for water.  

  • Crop management. Straightening field edges can enhance management operations and woodland provides habitat for pollinators and predators of pests. 

  • Reduce flood risk. Riparian woodland acts like a sponge, absorbing floodwaters and slowing their flow. This can help to reduce the risk of flooding downstream by temporarily storing flood water and reducing peak flows downstream. 

  • Increased biodiversity. Riparian woodlands provide a home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Planting riparian woodland on your land can help to support biodiversity and create a haven for wildlife. 

  • Reduced water temperatures. The shade provided by riparian trees will have an increasingly important part to play as the effects of climate change increase. Cool water temperatures are critical to the survival of many aquatic species.  

 

Potential sites for riparian woodland creation 


Riparian woodland can be anything from a narrow strip of trees and shrubs directly along the bank top, to wider strips of woodland extending onto the floodplain.

 

All riparian woodland, whatever its size, is beneficial and we're keen to talk to landowners about potential woodland creation schemes big or small (funding is available for projects of 0.1ha upwards).

 

If you own or manage land along the banks of rivers, streams, or drainage ditches and would like to explore if riparian woodland could help these areas, we would love to hear from you. 


Woodland creation grants are available 

 

Mersey Forest is currently offering grant funding for woodland creation through the Government's multi-million-pound, national Trees for Climate and Grow Back Greener programmes. This offers: 

  • Grant funding to cover up to 100% of the costs of woodland creation

  • Woodland creation, design, planning and planting advice from experienced, professional woodland advisors. 

  • Support for fences, water troughs, gates, contractors, Natural Flood

  • ​Management structures (such as leaky dams), and more

  • A funded ongoing maintenance plan to ensure success.   

Interested in learning more? 

 

If you have any questions about planting riparian woodland on your land or would like to know more about how to access this funding, please contact mail@merseyforest.org.uk using "Riparian Woodlands Project" and your site name in the email title; or call 01925 816217. 

 

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Revitalise your wellbeing this new year with Cheshire's Natural Health Service

19 December 2023

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Mindfulness session at Castle Park, Frodsham
As the calendar turns a new leaf, and people consider what resolutions they are setting for the year ahead, there's no better time to prioritise your well-being.

Cheshire's Natural Health Service Programme offers a unique and refreshing approach to kickstart your journey to a healthier, happier you.
  

Explore some of the benefits and experiences of taking part in this local initiative.
  • Connecting with nature – Cheshire's Natural Health Servic programme encourages individuals to immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural world. Whether it's a serene woodland walk, taking part in some gardening activities or simply pausing to appreciate the stillness of nature during an outdoor mindfulness session, the program emphasises the therapeutic power of the outdoors.
     
  • Physical activity in green spaces - engaging in physical activity surrounded by nature is a cornerstone of the programme. From invigorating walks around Marbury Park to healthy conservation sessions that allow people of all abilities to get involved and get active while helping the local environment, the Mersey Forest provides a diverse range of opportunities to get active. Exercise in natural settings has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and boost overall fitness.
     
  • Mindful moments - The New Year often prompts reflections on mental well-being. Cheshire's Natural Health Service encourages mindfulness and meditation amidst the tranquillity of a woodland or greenspace. Mindful moments in nature can enhance mental clarity, reduce stress, and promote a sense of inner calm. 
     
  • Embrace the seasons - The Natural Health Service programme runs throughout the year, whatever the weather. It provides a great opportunity to watch the seasons change and connect you more with natures natural cycles, something many of us have come disconnected from, as we spend more of our lives indoors. 
     
  • Social connections - The community aspect of the Natural Health Service is invaluable. Joining the programme provides opportunities to connect with others in your community who are looking at ways to improve their wellbeing. Social interactions in natural settings foster a sense of belonging and support and many of our regular participants have shared how much they enjoy this aspect of the sessions. 
     
  • New Year, new habits - As resolutions are set for the New Year, participating in Cheshire's Natural Health Service Programme provides a unique avenue to develop sustainable, health-focused habits. Whether it's committing to regular nature walks, embracing mindful practices, or incorporating forest-based fitness routines, the programme supports positive lifestyle changes. If you can't make the dates and times, you can still take inspiration from the programme and head out to your local woodland, park or greenspace to get active. Visit our things to do page for some ideas of places to visit.  
     
  • Accessible and inclusive - The programme strives to be accessible to everyone. Our programmes and activities are designed to accommodate varying fitness levels and abilities, ensuring that individuals of all ages and backgrounds can participate and enjoy the numerous health benefits. 
Let 2024 be the year you put yourself first, committing to get outside that bit more, breathing in the forest air, and connecting more with nature. Whether you're seeking physical fitness, improving your mental health, or creating more social connections, Cheshire's Natural Health Service could be the programme for you. 
 
Find out more about all our activities on the Natural Health Service website


 

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Politicians to plant 6 millionth tree of Northern Forest in Liverpool

30 November 2023

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A host of dignitaries joined together to plant the 6 millionth tree to mark five years since the start of the ambitious Northern Forest project to link up Liverpool to Hull with trees.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, joined the planting at Liverpool John Moores University.

Also in attendance were Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council (the accountable body for The Mersey Forest and Trees for Climate programme) and Councillor Barbara Murray from Liverpool City Council who is a member of the Mersey Forest Steering Group.

The university recently conducted an impact assessment* of the Northern Forest which showed around 300,000 households have been given new access to nature since the project started, with the equivalent of more than 4,000 football pitches of trees planted.

Nick Sellwood, the Woodland Trust's Northern Forest Programme Director, said the planting of the 6 millionth tree, on National Tree Week, is an important milestone.

He said: "It's wonderful to see everyone coming together to mark this important milestone. It has been massively rewarding to see the Northern Forest expanding across the north where trees were desperately needed, levelling up tree cover with the south.

"These trees are already helping communities across the M62 corridor in many ways, from combating flooding to providing new areas of nature for people to access.

"We've a long way to go though and need politicians to keep committing to funding so that we can complete this ambitious project"

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest and Chair of England's Community Forests, said: "The tree planted today is a symbol of the hard work and commitment of the Northern Forest Partnership and the communities that we work so closely with. Increasing woodland cover across the north will benefit our residents, the environment and economy for years to come and we can't wait to help plant the next six million."

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: "Wildlife is one of our region's most precious natural assets and we need to do everything in our power to not only protect it - but to help it flourish. Every new tree planted makes a huge difference to our communities and, while we might be marking the final milestone today, the roots we've laid down will have a lasting, positive impact on our natural environment. This really is just the start of our journey to revitalising our region's natural biodiversity - from our Local Nature Recovery Strategy, to our £1.3m Community Environment Fund, and our ambitious rewilding plans, we're making great strides to protect our precious ecosystems.

"All of this work has a much bigger role to play in our ambition to reach net zero by 2040 - at least a decade ahead of national government targets - helping us to improve the quality of air our children breathe and secure a greener, cleaner future for the next generation. We're only at the beginning of this journey but I'm confident that, working together, we can make a really positive difference to our people - and our planet."

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: "Green spaces are so important to people's quality of life, our environment and wildlife, and our mental wellbeing. The Northern Forest project is doing great work enhancing our environment, creating and renewing forests and green spaces for generations to come." 

Cllr Karen Shore, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "Increasing tree cover and access to green spaces is vital for communities across the north. The ambitious Northern Forest project has delivered so much for the first five years, and I can't wait to see the benefits it brings for communities, the economy and the environment as it expands further."

The Northern Forest project kicked off in 2018, thanks to a core partnership involving the Woodland Trust and four Community Forests:   Greater Manchester's City of Trees, The Mersey Forest, Humber Forest and the White Rose Forest, and the Community Forest Trust. 

Among its aims were to increase the very low tree cover across the north, which stands at just 7.6 per cent compared to the national average of 13 per cent, and is much lower than most counties in the south. They will achieve this by establishing at least 50 million new trees by 2043, helping to transform the landscape from Liverpool to the Yorkshire Coast.

It also aimed to lock up tonnes of carbon to fight climate change, generate billions of pounds of benefits to communities,  reduce the risk of flooding and create more jobs. It has since expanded through villages, towns and countryside across the north connecting more people with nature.

One beneficiary of new trees in the Northern Forest is Liverpool Parks and Greenspaces, supported by The Mersey Forest.

Owned by Liverpool City Council, over 12 hectares of trees which have been planted to complement wildflower schemes, enhancing a range of recreational facilities across the city including public open spaces, formal and informal parks, schools and sports facilities'. 

The Northern Forest Partnership has hugely benefitted from the Government's Nature for Climate Fund, which has played a major part in funding the 6 million trees planted so far through the Nature for Climate Funded Grow Back Greener and Trees for Climate programmes.

For more on the Northern Forest: www.northernforest.org.uk

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Celebrate National Tree Week 2023

24 November 2023

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Image of tree canopy with text reading: National Tree Week 2023. 25 November - 3 December
National Tree Week is the UK's largest annual tree celebration. Each year, the country's conservation sector, volunteer groups and tree-lovers come together to care for and plant thousands of trees to kick off the tree planting season.
This year holds particular significance as it makes the 50th anniversary of the "Plant a Tree in '73" campaign, from which National Tree Week (and The Tree Council who organise the annual event) was born. In honour of those roots, the focus this year is to pay homage by giving as many people as possible the opportunity to "Grow a Tree in '23".
 

Get involved


You can join this year's campaign by supporting tree maintenance efforts in the area, helping to care for trees and woodlands to ensure they thrive for generations to enjoy.
 
Many volunteer groups in the area care for our woodlands throughout the year. You can find details of lots of local community groups on our website. If you want to get involved during Tree Week to see what it's like to take part and play your part to support the wellbeing of our woodlands, come along to a fun, outdoor Healthy Conservation session.

They're a great chance to gain experience of and assist with practical conservation activities, such as planting trees and hedges, woodland management, sowing wildflowers and maintaining wildlife ponds.
 
The sessions are open to everyone, providing a chance to work with others in your local community, have a laugh, and appreciate the beauty of nature. Joing us at:
  • Whitby Park, Ellesmere Port. Tuesday mornings from 10am to 12:30pm.
  • Griffin Wood, St Helens. Tuesday mornings from 10am until 2pm.
Find out more and sign up for a 'Healthy Conservation' session.

Some local groups and organisations have also listed their own planting or tree awareness workshops directly on the Tree Council's website. Find out more by visiting the 'Get involved section of the website: https://treecouncil.org.uk/seasonal-campaigns/national-tree-week/

Wirral Council, one of our local authority partners, is also hosting the below tree events throughout the week.  If you are interested in attending one of these, please book a place by emailing: wirraltreewardens@wirral.gov.uk 

Thursday 30th November – Maintenance session at Leasowe Playing Fields.
Friday 1st December – Tomograph demonstration at Arrowe Park.
Saturday 2nd December – Tree Warden induction and tree walk at Dibbinsdale Local Nature Reserve.
 

Tree talks

Another way of getting involved is by joining one of the Tree Talks – a series of free online sessions offered by the Tree Council for National Tree Week. Covering a range of fascinating topics, experts from the Tree Council and its partners provide valuable insights into the world of trees. The sessions include:
   
National Tree Week's 50th anniversary is a momentous occasion, inviting everyone to be part of the legacy by growing a tree in '23. Whether you prefer hands-on conservation activities or informative online talks, there are numerous ways to engage with this year's celebrations. Find out more on the National Tree Week website.
 

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