Students, school children and local residents dug deep to plant a new 1,000-tree woodland on a popular Stockport recreation area.
The new swathe of woodland has been created on part of Mirrlees Fields in Woodsmoor, adjacent to the Man Diesel & Turbo factory the owners of the site.
Trees including oak, birch, wild cherry, hornbeam and blackthorn were planted – as well as copses of hazel and willow which residents plan to harvest for a variety of uses including craft activities such as willow weaving.
Mirrlees Fields was once a recreation area used by staff working at the Man Diesel & Turbo factory but is now accessible for the whole community. Since 2014 the 60-acre green space has been managed by Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
The trees were planted over two volunteer days organised by local environmental charity Red Rose Forest in partnership with the Mirrlees Fields Friends Group.
Funding was obtained from the Government’s four-year Big Tree Plant scheme which aims to plant one million trees across the UK by 2015 – as well as from Man Diesel & Turbo
Beth Kelsall, Red Rose Forest Heritage Trees Technical Officer, said: “Thanks to a brilliant effort from the local community Mirrlees Fields now has a fledgling new woodland which over the next few years will grow and mature to become an asset for local people and wildlife. The trees may only appear small at the moment but once they take root and become established they will become a permanent feature of the site.
“Mirrlees Fields is a hidden gem – a natural oasis in the midst of urban Stockport. By adding to tree cover at the site we are helping to make it an even more special place.”
Richard Gardner, Conservation Manager East at Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The tree planting at Mirrlees Fields is part of a long term vision for the site. It will not only create more space for wildlife and biodiversity to thrive, which is one of Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s key aims, but will also provide a wonderful green space right in the heart of Stockport, allowing more people access to nature right on their doorsteps.”
Louise Durose, General Counsel at MAN Diesel & Turbo said: “MAN Diesel & Turbo is always conscious of the environment and a scheme like this gave us the opportunity to create a legacy on our fields for the benefit of all the people and wildlife that enjoy them.”
Local resident Jim Gilligan said: “This has been a wonderful experience for so many of our local community. We have loved helping to enhance this beautiful open space. It is particularly gratifying to see the involvement of the next generation.”
Despite its urban location, Mirrlees Fields is home to diverse range of wildlife. More than 50 species of bird have been spotted locally including tawny owls and kingfishers. It also boasts many well established trees including oak trees estimated to be more than 200 years old.
Future activities will focus on improving the site’s wildlife habitats. Ponds, footpath improvements, community orchards and food growing areas are also planned.
Since 2011, Red Rose Forest has been using Big Tree Plant funding to plant thousands of new trees with the help of volunteers from local communities, businesses, schools and universities.
The government initiative aims to plant one million new trees across the UK by April 2015.
This tree planting season alone has seen more than 7,000 trees planted across Greater Manchester.