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Speke Hall team up with the local community to create a new on-site woodland

2 years ago

Speke Hall team up with the local community to create a new on-site woodland

A new woodland has been planted by community groups and volunteers on the estate at the National Trust’s Speke Hall in Liverpool.

The conservation charity hopes it will improve habitats, store carbon, and help bring people closer to nature.

Planted in partnership with The Mersey Forest, one of England’s Community Forests, which has been growing a network of woodlands and green spaces across Cheshire and Merseyside for 30 years, the new woodland is made up of over 1,200 trees and equal in size to three football pitches.

Speke Hall

Credit: National Trust Dave Jones

Speke Hall is one of hundreds of sites across the area that are being planted as part of the national Trees for Climate programme, a multi-million-pound woodland creation project, part of the Government-led Nature for Climate Fund.

To help plant the trees, the National Trust have worked with local schools, businesses and staff from Merseyside Police who have a base nearby, as well as National Trust volunteers and staff.

The North Front of Speke Hall, Liverpool.

The rare Tudor mansion of Speke Hall and its historic gardens and estate sits in an unusual position surrounded by industrial estates and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. In the early twentieth-century, the Speke Hall estate was vast in size, but most of it was subsequently sold to the Liverpool Corporation to create the new town of Speke.

Today, the property is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and is described as a ‘green oasis’ by the National Trust. While most visitors come to enjoy the landscaped gardens and explore the house, the wider estate is home to semi-ancient woodland and hay meadows which provide important green spaces for wildlife and people.

Simon Osborne, general manager at Speke Hall, says:

“With a large urban population on its doorstep, this new woodland will mean Speke Hall’s estate will become an even better place for our local community and visitors to connect with nature. It will also help the National Trust achieve its ambition to plant 20 million trees by 2030 to help in the fight against climate change and create better homes for wildlife.”

Speke Hall

Old estate map showing Mollineux meadow where the current woodland is planted (Credit: National Trust)

“We’re delighted to be working with The Mersey Forest, England’s Community Forests, and members of the local community to bring this woodland to life, and we’re looking forward to seeing the benefits it will bring to nature and people as it grows.”

Paul Nolan, director of The Mersey Forest, says:

“Speke Hall is one of many sites across the country being planted this year as part of the national Trees for Climate programme. These trees will play their part helping the country tackle climate change with this new woodland storing 430 tonnes of carbon over the next 100 years. The wider range of benefits include reducing flood risk, supporting increased public access to woodland and creating more places for nature to thrive.”

Speke Hall

Credit: National Trust

Several tree species are being planted, including oak, scots pine and birch, which have been chosen to complement the native species already on the estate.

Ian Ford, area ranger at Speke Hall, says:

“The species of tree we’re planting here are bespoke to the area and will connect with the existing planting, which is important because we know they will be able to tolerate the soil and weather conditions.

Speke Hall

Credit: National Trust Dave Jones

“Historically, the field where the woodland is being planted was once part of the existing-Clough woodland. It was then used for agricultural purposes, with the last recorded crop of winter oats in 1920, so it’s wonderful to see this area being restored to what it was centuries ago.

“As the trees grow and the understory develops, the new woodland will connect with the rest of the estate and become home to many different species.”

The new woodland will help support a variety of wildlife, particularly birds, who already enjoy a safe haven in Speke Hall’s woodlands and the adjacent Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve. It is hoped that smaller birds such as tits, finches and warblers will benefit alongside mammals and bats, which will all be able to feed on the variety of insects attracted to the area.

Graeme McGrath, volunteering and community officer at Speke Hall, says:

“It’s very important for us that local community groups and businesses have been involved in planting the new woodland, as it really is for the benefit of everyone.

“It is important local people benefit from the new woodland in the future too. For people living in Speke and some parts of Garston, we offer a Neighbours Pass scheme which gives free entry to Speke Hall all year round. Terms and conditions, and an applications form, can be found on our website.”

Speke Hall’s garden, estate, restaurant and play areas are open seven days a week. The house is open Wednesday-Sunday, between March and October. Entry is free for National Trust members, admission charges apply to non-members.

For more information about Speke Hall, click here.

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