The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project scooped the Be Active in Our World Award at the Echo Environment Awards last night.
The project helps more people to enjoy the outdoors, particularly those who face social exclusion or those that currently have little or no contact with the natural environment, and runs in two Merseyside neighbourhoods: Sutton Manor in St.Helens and West Derby in Liverpool. These areas were chosen as they are home to several new or revamped woodlands and green spaces created on derelict or brownfield land.
The project has helped different sections of the community – from school children to adults with mental health issues – to discover these new sites and to be physically active on a regular basis.
Activities have included group cycle rides, community tree planting, woodland management task days, family events, outdoor education training for local teachers, and regular "Forest School" lessons in woodlands for school children. The Liverpool and St.Helens project is part of the national Access to Nature programme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Judges chose Access to Nature as the award winner thanks to its track record of getting over 2000 people active in their communities.
Environmental champions from all over the city gathered at Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool for the glittering ceremony, which included business and community awards.
The Mersey Forest-sponsored Corporate Responsibility Award went to Heap and Partners, a valve manufacturer, who have made great strides in ensuring their corporate responsibility over a number of years.
Other winners included Anthony Beyga, who jointly won the Give Environment Award for his services to the community along with Edward Feeney. Anthony Beyga has been particularly active around Mab Lane Community Woodland, championing the budding woodland and documenting its progress through his photography.
Natural Choices project North End Writers also won the Take Notice in our World Award, as a result of their project to help people express their creativity and appreciation of nature through writing.
Well done to all of the winners and those shortlisted. You can see more photographs of the winners on the Liverpool Echo website.