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Forest bathing comes to Liverpool city centre

28 June 2019

'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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