With 46 community woodlands totalling well over 200 hectares of woodland habitat, Knowsley is the most well-wooded borough in Merseyside.
Since the launch of a borough-wide woodland management programme in 2009, which established woodland management plans for all of Knowsley Council's woodland sites, a revival in the investment and management of these valuable assets has been underway.
The revival has continued in 2014 in partnership with local volunteers, 'friends' and community groups, and with support from The Mersey Forest Team, who helped to secure funding through the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme. Major investment has been made in a range of sites, including woodland thinning and habitat restoration works, installation of public infrastructure and a general transformation in the attractiveness of these sites for public use and biodiversity value.
With SITA Trust investment, the woodlands bordering the Knowsley Expressway saw a wholesale restoration, which has set this 24 hectare woodland on a course to be one of Knowsley's most important green corridors. Cross Hillocks Woods and Hillsborough
Oaks are nestled in this extensive habitat and have also benefited from investment to ensure public benefit from this investment.
Equally significant is the restoration of woodland and meadowland habitats in Stadt Moers Park. The Tushingham Quadrant of the park contains over 16 hectares of woodland, which has been extensively thinned to allow this young habitat to mature in years to come. New paths and other infrastructure are planned imminently that will, again, ensure full public access to this extensive country park.
Smaller community woodlands have also seen a revival, including Clint East Wood, Knowsley Village (woodland thinning supported by Myerscough College trainees), Lime Tree Woods, Fazakerley (re-affirmed as a community woodland through woodland works and entrance improvements) and the Old Rough, Kirkby (management and re-planting works to kerb vandalism and fire damage targeting the veteran trees).
Carr Lane Woods, Prescot, has most recently seen a transformation, with woodland thinning works breathing new life into the woodlands and attracting people back into a site that was previously much under-used. New paths and infrastructure improvements have added to the site's attractiveness and a much greater number of people are now using the site positively.
Cllr. Eddie Connor, Knowsley Council's Cabinet Member for Leisure, Community and Culture said: "The impact on our local communities resulting from the restoration of our community woodland sites is invaluable. With the correct investment and informed management, sites that were unused and actively avoided are now being used to their full potential by a range of local residents and visitors. This work is set to continue year on year, through the structure woodland management programme that Knowsley Council has now adopted."