The Mersey Forest team worked with partners in the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands to share approaches and develop best practice between 2011 and 2015 as part of this EU Interreg funded project.
The Mersey Forest Plan provides the long term strategic guide for the work of the team and partnership. It sets out a vision in which Merseyside and North Cheshire is one of the best places in the country to live, and provides a blueprint to create more woodlands and street trees across our area. It was approved by the UK Government in October 1994 and updated in 2001. Our case study has been to refresh the Plan to bring it up to date as a living green infrastructure plan.
This has been underpinned by a robust process of community consultation. This was important because the National Planning Policy Framework states that an 'approved Community Forest plan may be a material consideration in preparing development plans and in deciding planning applications'.
The public consultation took place over an extended timescale, and involved asking the public how they felt about trees and woodlands in Merseyside, where they would like to see more trees planted, and locations where woodlands could be better managed. The campaign included both traditional marketing methods and innovative interactive mapping too.
This information, together with an innovative geospatial mapping methodology, has provided an evidence base upon which to develop and implement local policy. The work has identified key areas for increasing woodland landscape connectivity that can assist not only in helping to reduce habitat fragmentation, but also provide a range of ecosystem services.
The outcome has been a refreshed Forest Plan and a Business Plan which will sets out our objectives and our actions for showing what we want to achieve, how we will achieve it, and how partner organisations' own targets can be met through creating the Forest.
For more information, visit http://www.merseyforest.org.uk/plan.
We are also led on the project's "diagnosis and design" work package thanks to our specialist expertise in green infrastructure mapping.