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20 Feb 2020

Wirral Waters to benefit from national tree planting fund

Hundreds of trees will be planted across the Wirral Waters site over the next two years, thanks to a grant secured by The Mersey Forest.

In total, The Mersey Forest has secured £2.4m from the national Urban Tree Challenge Fund, to plant both small saplings and large urban trees across Merseyside and North Cheshire.

The trees will help to improve health and wellbeing, as well as play a crucial role in the fight against climate change, supporting the UK’s journey to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Wirral Waters is one of the key sites to benefit from the funding awarded to The Mersey Forest, alongside locations in Knowsley, Hunts Cross in Liverpool and Ellesmere Port in Cheshire West and Chester.

In total over 6,500 trees will be planted across The Mersey Forest, including 1,500 small sapling trees and over 5,000 large, high impact trees in urban areas, such as Wirral Waters.

The Mersey Forest is one of thirteen projects in urban communities across England that have been awarded a share of £10 million in the first round of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, which is awarded by the Forestry Commission and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Across the country over 22,000 large trees and 28,000 small trees will be planted in urban areas.

Richard Mawdsley, director of development for Wirral Waters at Peel L&P, said: “This is fantastic news for Wirral Waters and our surrounding urban area. We have been working closely with The Mersey Forest for many years to ensure that Wirral Waters is a sustainable environment and a green community, which promotes healthy living and trees are crucial to this plan.

“With building work now underway at Wirral Waters, it’s important that the green infrastructure starts to take shape alongside it, helping to make Wirral Waters a beautiful and attractive place to live and work.”

The tree planting initiative also supports Peel L&P’s new five-year sustainability plan and commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) to help create a fair and sustainable planet by 2030. Merseyside is home to 2030hub, the world’s first United Nations recognised entrepreneurial Local Hub, partly sponsored by Peel L&P, which helps local organisations to accelerate social and environmental impact in line with the UNSDGs.

Carl Smethurst, who co-ordinated the bid at The Mersey Forest, said: “We’re delighted to have secured such a significant amount of funding for large urban trees across the areas that need it most across Merseyside and North Cheshire. This will help to improve the quality of access routes, encouraging active travel and recreation and improving our wellbeing through increased physical activity.”

He continues: “The aim of the Mersey Forest is to get “more from trees”, to increase tree and woodland planting, and to engage communities in understanding and supporting their role in helping to tackle key issues such as the impacts of climate change, natural flood management, poor air quality and loss of biodiversity. The funding from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund is a great boost to continuing to deliver that vision.”

The fund is being delivered by the Forestry Commission, as part of their work to expand woodlands and tree cover across England.

Chair of the Forestry Commission, Sir Harry Studholme said: “It is such great news that the first year of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund has been so successful and able to reach so many places. “The fund focuses on areas of high deprivation and low tree canopy cover where every tree planted has the change to provide the greatest impact.

“Not only do trees in urban areas help to improve wellbeing but they also offer benefits in many other ways like helping tackle climate change and mitigating flood risks. I look forward to seeing the second year of the fund re-opening for smaller scale planting later this year.”

The new trees will also form part of the Northern Forest, an ambitious initiative to plant 50 million trees, stretching from Merseyside to Hull, within 25 years.