The students took a tour around Colliers Moss accompanied by Carl Smethurst and Yendle Barwise from the Mersey Forest team. The study tour covered the history of the site – the transformation of a 55 hectare former colliery tip to a valued open space right on the doorstep of local residents – and the challenges of managing a woodland site in a semi-urban area.
The site – part of Bold Forest Park
– has seen many improvements in the last two years. Entrance ways have been given a makeover and more than a mile of footpaths improved, including a programme of clearing back vegetation from paths that had been unmanaged for years.
The students discussed the management regime of the site's most valuable wildlife habitats including clearing reeds, opening up areas of heathland and ensuring the remnant mosslands around the site thrive into the future.
The tour also covered the social and economic benefits of the site and wider Bold Forest Park, and the aspiration for these green spaces to enable local people to safely be active, connect with nature and come together as a community.
The students also discussed The Mersey Forest's innovative wood allotments scheme, which allows community members to get involved in woodland management and benefit from free firewood.
The site visit – in glorious sunshine – was extended due to the students' level of interest in the achievements at Colliers Moss. The success of the training day has led to the National School of Forestry planning to create a new session in their policy module covering these kind of approaches to community forestry.