5 November 2021 – At the beginning of 2021, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Total Environment Service approached the Mersey Forest Team for funding to establish a native woodland and new hedgerows on land, owned by the Council, in Picton, Cheshire.
Mosaic of habitats provide haven for wildlife and walkers
The site is based along the North Cheshire Way national footpath, one of Cheshire’s longest paths which provides 70 miles of waymarked walking from Wirral to the Peak District across a range of Cheshire countryside.
As with all new projects, the land was surveyed to decide what trees would thrive there and the best design for the area.
Summary of the project
The site offered an opportunity to establish 12 hectares of woodland. Site investigations and survey identified areas to leave open to conserve historical features and other areas on which to create other, non-woodland habitats.
An important part of The Mersey Forest’s work is working with partners to create a mosaic of habitats, such as woodland, water, grassland, hedgerow and others, designed so as to fit into the landscape and reflect and protect the historical landscape whilst helping to increase biodiversity and enhancing the area for wildlife.
A native woodland was planted and included some advancing species such as beech and a mature or standard oak tree, which predators such as owls hunt from. These trees are already between 1.5 to 2 metres tall when first planted, and as they continue to thrive will develop an increasingly attractive habitat for wildlife. In total 12,366 trees and 305m of hedgerows were planted at Picton.
The work at Picton and the North Cheshire Way national footpath is a great example of where funding from The Mersey Forest goes beyond delivering trees. In this instance, the section of the footpath crossing the land was in a dangerous and overall poor state of repair. The Trees for Climate grant meant that new infrastructure, such as new stiles and a footbridge, could be installed along the path helping to make the woodland accessible to the public.
Much of The Mersey Forest’s work is about getting people out in nature and connecting with their local area. These improvements will not only be a haven for local wildlife but also benefit residents and visitors enjoying this unique corner of Cheshire.
Public access and management:
The site at Picton has been improved to ensure that the public can enjoy this section of the North Cheshire Way footpath and have access to the newly created woodland and habitat.
The native woodland that has been planted in this location will be attractive to a range of native wildlife, including some predators such as owls.
Contribution to Net Zero:
It is estimated that the newly planted woodland will have captured approximately 2,352 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (tCO2) after 30 years, providing a significant contribution to the borough achieving its target of becoming net zero by 2045.
Engagement, health and wellbeing:
The site’s location along a national footpath provides residents and visitors with an opportunity to exercise in nature and enjoy the many benefits this provides for our wellbeing.