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News

Liverpool’s St Johns Shopping Centre set for striking new green wall

18 September 2019

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iving Wall Visual 2 - low res
An innovative giant living wall, part of a global effort to increase green space in city centres, has been approved by Liverpool City Council.
The installation, one of the largest outside of London, will stretch across the outside of the upper floor of St Johns Shopping Centre, visible from the pedestrianised areas around it and from Queens Square Bus Station.
 
The 50m long green wall is funded through the EU Horizon 2020 project Urban GreenUP and is one of several green projects that are set to get underway in the city, which recently declared a Climate Emergency, over the next six months.
 
Liverpool's Urban GreenUP programme has been awarded nearly £3.5million of European funding to tackle issues such as biodiversity, flooding, climate change, air quality and health and wellbeing through 'nature-based solutions'.
 
Partners in the five-year project include Liverpool City Council, The Mersey Forest, Liverpool BID Company and the University of Liverpool, as well as organisations in Valladolid (Spain) and Izmir (Turkey), and five more cities across the world.
 
Centre Manager, Neil Ashcroft, said: "At St Johns Shopping Centre we are always seeking ways to bring wider benefits to the communities we serve. Green space in city centres plays an important role in improving physical and mental health, as well as improving air quality. With a clear aspiration to install a living wall at the Centre, we did our research and partnered with the Mersey Forest team to make it happen. We have worked hard with landlords, tenants and partners to drive this ground-breaking project forward and it is great to see this important milestone reached."
 
Clare Olver from the Mersey Forest Team welcomed the approval.  "This approval means we are on track to have what will be the city's largest green wall installed by Christmas. The green wall will be good for air quality, biodiversity, adapting to climate change and for business. There is good evidence that greener areas attract more footfall and that people tend to spend more time shopping in greener areas."
 
Bill Addy, chief executive of Liverpool BID Company, said: "The introduction of the green wall at St Johns Shopping Centre is great news for the city, with this installation making our city centre greener and more environmentally sustainable, while improving the experience for locals, tourists and BID levy paying businesses."
 
Councillor Laura Robertson-Collins, Liverpool city council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability, said: "Liverpool city centre needs more green space but due to its compact, condensed make up we need to think differently in how we achieve that and this living wall is a brilliant example. It will not only improve air quality and bio-diversity in the heart of the city centre but it will put a smile on people's faces. This living wall will be a great Christmas present to the city and like all the best presents its benefits will be long lasting."

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BLOG: Reducing plastic is an issue for tree planters

02 September 2019

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tree-planting-plastic
Perrine Weffling is a French engineering student at AgroParisTech, the French Institute of Sciences and Industries of Life and Environment, located in Paris. She's studying urban agriculture and urban forestry and recently joined The Mersey Forest as an intern.

This summer, as part of my studies, I did an internship at The Mersey Forest. I chose to go to England because I thought that going to a foreign country would be rewarding to discover other people's perspectives on the issue of urban greening. I was employed by TMF to work on the Urban GreenUP project for three months.

While here, I also decided to work on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy of The Mersey Forest Team. In some peoples' minds, CSR can just mean a volunteering day for employees, it is in fact a much wider approach. It consists of the voluntary integration of companies' social and ecological concerns into their business activities and their relationships with their stakeholder. In recent years, CSR has become increasingly important in organisations, and this approach fits perfectly into the 2019 Year of the Environment.

Therefore, I looked at how The Mersey Forest offices worked and tried to implement fast and easy actions that might benefit social, economic and environmental factors. For example, as part of Plastic Free July, I organised a challenge with the TMF team which goal was to reduce the use of plastic items; it included a workshop to learn how to create its own household products. In fact, in addition to an organisation's actions, everybody can help the environment through their behaviour. We also changed our search engine to a fair one which subsidises tree plantation: Ecosia.

These actions are useful, but in TMF, we know that the biggest impact we can have is through the change of the main practices of the organisation. Thus we are actively looking for alternatives for plastic tree guards. These guards, which enable the trees to protect against rodents (such as voles and rabbits), as well as they provide a special environment for young trees (helping the tree hold onto available moisture, creating its own micro-climate) have been considered "good silviculture practice". In current context, it is critical to question this practice and to find other solutions.

Next week I will go back to France in order to fulfil my last year of studies with the feeling of having made the most of this experience. I will always keep in mind that urban green infrastructure needs to be led by intelligence to get "more from trees" than simply their aesthetic aspect.
 

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The Californian giant in St Helens

23 August 2019

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250987709_ae95a60762_b
There's a big surprise waiting for visitors to St Helens' Griffin Wood – a young giant, a long way from home, now starting to grow. And not any old giant either – he's got a hugely famous parent! (pictured above)

It's a Californian Giant Sequioa, also known as the Sierra Redwood, which can reach heights of over 90 metres. Now visible from the M62 motorway (between junctions 8 and 9, on the north side) our giant is growing well and we hope will be an iconic tree in years to come. The tree is an enduring reminder of the huge American presence in this area in wartime, with the former RAF Burtonwood airfield just a few fields away – at the time the biggest American air base in Europe.

The Griffin Wood Giant Sequoia:



The tree came to the Mersey Forest many years ago as a tiny sapling. A local woman grew seeds taken from the famous General Sherman tree in California – the largest known single stem tree anywhere on Earth!



And General Sherman is not only the largest living tree, but the largest living organism, by volume, on the planet. With a height of 83.8 metres and a circumference of 31.3 metres it's an incredible 2,300–2,700 years old.

Our young giant has a long way to go – but imagine what the world might be like when he's all grown up!

Visit Griffin Wood

A-Z of trees in The Mersey Forest



 

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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!

Find out more

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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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