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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com using "Riparian Woodlands Project" and your site name in the email title; or call 01925 816217.
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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