As part of The Mersey Forest, Knowsley's Community Woodlands are continuing on their revival as valued public open spaces across the borough. Following fundraising success of over £1,000,000, 2012 has seen nine of Knowsley's 44 community woodlands transformed into hubs for outdoor activity and access to nature.
Ten Acre Pits (Huyton), Northwood Forest Hills (Kirkby), Little Wood (Stockbridge Village), New Hutte Woods (Halewood), Acornfield Plantation (Kirkby) and Stadt Moers Park 'Pluckington Quadrant' (Huyton) have now been re-launched this year as vibrant new public open spaces and natural havens in their respective communities.
Halewood Park has also received a Green Flag Award marking its revival as Halewood's main public open space.
New welcoming entrances and signage, coupled with accessible paths and seating, as well as woodland and other habitat restoration, has put these sites back on the map with dramatic increases in local people using the sites, which in many cases, were underutilised and, at worst 'no go zones'.
Projects are still underway, with Court Farm Woods (Halewood) and Woolfall Heath Meadow (North Huyton) currently experiencing major alterations to their fortunes as public open spaces. Formally used simply as 'cut-throughs' these two sites are now showcasing their wildlife value and supporting local people to re-connect with their local wildlife. Woolfall Heath Meadow is being connected into the wider 'Alt Greenway' linking Huyton with Stockbridge Village though the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
Wider funding that has supported the above work has come from Big Lottery Fund 'Community Spaces', Cory Environmental Trust in Britain, Ibstock Cory Environmental Trust, Forestry Commission, Marks & Spencer's 'Greener Living Places' Fund and Knowsley Council. Valuable support has been provided by The Mersey Forest Team, as well as 2020 Knowsley.
Most crucially, however, the regeneration of these community woodlands is down to the efforts of the Friends & Community Groups within the borough. Friends of Ten Acre Pits, Northwood Community Allotments, Little Woods of Stockbridge Association, Leather's Lane & Wood Road Community Association, Friends of Acornfield Plantation, Friends of Stadt Moers Park, Court Farm Woods Association and North Huyton Neighbourhood Network were crucial in fundraising for their sites and in supporting local residents to get involved in the improvements.
Cllr. Connor, Leisure Portfolio Holder for Knowsley Council, said: "These regeneration projects now stand as testimony as to what change can be achieved when local residents come together with the Council and partners like The Mersey Forest to support their local public spaces. Forgotten pieces of land have been transformed into hubs for the community again and it is Knowsley Council's intention to continue this work in 2013 with through the rest of our local community woodland sites serving the borough."
To find out more about Knowsley's Community Woodland Sites, visit www.visitwoods.org.uk and search for Kirkby, Huyton or Halewood. Alternatively, contact Philip Hurst, Green Space Development Officer, Tel: 0151 443 2482, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.