Woodland Outreach in the Northern Forest
I joined the Northern Outreach team in November 2018 as an Outreach Adviser for the Northern Forest, having been at the Trust for 3 years. It is pretty much my dream job – getting to work and live in the north, explore the wide ranging landscapes that we have here and be part of a hugely exciting 25 year project to plant 50 million trees from Liverpool to Hull. It’s been a whirlwind of site visits, partnership meetings, getting to know our Woodland Creation Champion volunteers and walks in the woods.
The Northern Forest is a partnership project between the Woodland Trust, Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, White Rose Forest and HEYwoods. Outside of the core Community Forest areas is a ‘halo of influence’ where the Woodland trust will be spending a lot of time offering advice and funding on woodland and hedgerow creation through the various schemes we have available for landowners. Having been embedded in the Northern Forest project it’s mostly all I think about! However many people still don’t know what it is, why it’s happening or who is involved.
One of the best things about working in outreach, for me, is getting to talk to such a wide range of people on a daily basis. In the same day I can go from seeing a landowner who is completely on board with woodland creation and improving our natural environment for future generations to a landowner who might be completely adverse to trees and does not believe that trees and woodlands can affect and improve things like water and air quality, livestock welfare and in some cases mitigate flooding as well as the obvious of increasing biodiversity and habitat connectivity. It’s always rewarding when you spend time talking to those more difficult landowners who at first are unwilling to change their land management practices to then help them with small copses, hedgerows and in some cases areas of woodland creation on their land.
For the past few years the seriousness of the climate crisis, the loss and destruction of habitat both in the UK and globally and the extinction of numerous species has started to reach the general public and not just those involved in the environmental or conservation sectors. The blue planet effect on single use plastic was pretty unbelievable. At times I feel like there is nothing we can do to turn those issues around to leave the country in a better state for future generations. However, projects like the Northern Forest make me feel positive about making a difference both in the short and long term. Working in partnership with so many organisations to improve and enhance our environment is inspiring and quite frankly the only way we will see a real change.
There are some ambitious tree planting targets for the Northern Forest as a whole, to go with that there are brilliant numbers of large scale planting applications (MOREwoods and MOREhedges schemes) which are administered by the team at head office. I can only predict that these application numbers will increase. We are currently able to offer an enhanced funding rate for woodland creation in the Northern Forest region – 85% on self-plant schemes and 70% on contractor schemes.
Last season the MOREwoods scheme sent out 48,620 trees within the Northern Forest region, a fantastic number and something for us to build on in the 2019/2020 season!
Hannah Marshall, Outreach Advisor – Northern Forest