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