Last winter's outcry over plans for public woodlands led to the announcement of a national review of England's approach to woods and forests. As part of this, The Mersey Forest has been making the case for the importance of community woodlands for people, wildlife and economy.
Chairing the Independent Panel on Forestry set up to advise the government is the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones. In June, The Mersey Forest and partners took the Bishop to see a brand new community woodland in action and talk to local residents who have benefited from the project.
One year on from being planted, Mab Lane Community Woodland has been named as Merseyside's Neighbourhood Improvement Project of the year and been proclaimed "a brilliant idea" by local residents who say it has "really changed the area".
As part of his visit to the woodland, the Bishop heard from members of the local community about the difference that the woodland had made to the area, with local resident Tony Beyga commenting:
"Bishop Jones appeared very impressed with the woodlands and listened to everyone's point of view and took on board all the comments and feedback.
"We hope he took away a positive impression and he could clearly see the amount of hard work and effort that has gone into making the woodland a very valuable community resource."
All at The Mersey Forest wish the Bishop a speedy recovery from his recent ill-health, and we look forward to working with him again soon.
The Mersey Forest has also launched a paper entitled "Seeing the wood for the trees - the Forestry Review and why it matters", which draws upon the Forest's twenty years' experience in community forestry.
The paper argues that the current debate needs to focus on "how we can increase the amount of woodland, protect what we have and maximise its public benefits". It tackles the issue from three angles: forestry for commerce, forestry for community, and forestry for climate.
A round-table discussion was also held with partners from across the local area to feed into The Mersey Forest's formal response to the Independent Panel's "call for views".