First trees planted as charity tees up to turn abandoned golf course into wildlife haven
School children are set to plant the first of 30,000 trees at Frodsham, Cheshire in an ambitious project to turn fairways into forest and greens into glades.
With tree cover between just 6 and 7% in Merseyside and Cheshire, compared to the national average of 13%, the site will provide vital green space, as well as becoming a beacon for combating climate change.
Over the next 50 years, the Frodsham golf course site, on the outskirts of Frodsham, offers an exciting opportunity to link the existing Woodland Trust sites at Snidley Moor, Woodhouse Hill & Frodsham Hill Woods, with other areas of adjoining woodland.
It will develop as native broadleaf woodland and all trees planted will help to grow The Mersey Forest and the larger Northern Forest, which stretches from Liverpool to the Yorkshire coast.
On the eve of the first plantings, Neil Oxley, site manager, is keen to stress that this is not just a project about planting but one about creating a mosaic of habitats, with natural regeneration too (a practice where nature is left to takeover). Around 30,000 trees will be planted with a further 10,000 trees being encouraged to spring up naturally.
He said: “It’s great to finally kick off the planting at the site. Close to urban areas, it will provide a vital area of nature for wildlife and recreation and be a key part of the expanding Northern Forest.
“This summer we have already seen wildflowers spring up on the fairways and greens which would have been mown when it was being managed as a golf course. As we plant more trees the potential is huge for flora and fauna and of course it will provide vital tree cover to help us tackle the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
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Tim Kirwin, who is leading the planting on behalf of charity “Wilder Things”, said: “It is so exciting to begin this amazing woodland creation project. Newly planted wood in Cheshire is such a rare thing and to have it here in Frodsham is very special. The existing Woodland Trust volunteers I work with in the Frodsham Woods have been eagerly awaiting the start of this project. We have 900 children set to plant trees over the next five months and I know their enthusiasm and keenness to protect this beautiful site will be boundless. We will also have numerous public events which you can book via Eventbrite throughout the project.”
Paul Nolan, director of The Mersey Forest, said: “We’re really pleased to support this project as part of the growing Mersey Forest and we can’t wait to see the children plant the first trees in the ground. As the woodland and surrounding habitat develop it will transform the site, increasing wildlife in the area and providing more opportunities for people to connect with nature and benefit from this fantastic green space.”
The site will contribute to the Northern Forest scheme, an effort to plant 50 million trees across 10,000 square miles stretching coast to coast from Chester and Liverpool to Hull. Currently, the area only has 7.6% woodland cover, but the initiative hopes to increase this to 20%.
The site will provide habitats for wildlife, providing access to nature for local communities and locking away carbon. The new woodland will protect the existing ancient semi-natural and secondary woodlands nearby. It will have a varied and diverse woodland structure interspersed with grassy paths and open glades.
There will be a network of footpaths for informal public access across the site with views of the Sandstone Ridge, River Mersey, Liverpool and the Welsh Hills.
The site will also be delivering community engagement and education through volunteering and space for outdoor learning. To book a place on a planting event go to: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/frodsham-woods-community-tree-planting-tickets-735919784887
The Frodsham project is being funded through the Grow Back Greener programme which is led by the Woodland Trust, in partnership with Mersey Forest, City of Trees (Greater Manchester), White Rose Forest and Humber Forest, with funding from the Government’s Nature for Climate Fund.
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